Hoopes, known as Tim, was born in Duluth, Minnesota. He graduated from Phillips Academy, before attending Yale University, where he became a member of the Skull and Bones society:188, and captain of the football team, graduating in 1944. Later he would graduate from the National War College as well.
He married twice. His first marriage to Marion Schmidt ended in divorce. They had two sons together: Townsend Walter Hoopes III and Peter Schmidt Hoopes. His second marriage to Ann Merrifield lasted 40 years until his death. They had a daughter together: Andrea Hoopes DeGirolamo. He also had four stepchildren: Lise Jeantet, Cecily Hoopes Lyons, Briggs Swift Cunningham IV, and F. Thomas B.C. Hoopes. Additionally, he had 11 grandchildren including a grandson bearing his name, Hunter Townsend Hoopes.
During World War II, he served as a Marine Lieutenant in the Pacific theater of the war, participating in the U.S. 5th Marine Division capture of Iwo Jima and the initial occupation of Japan. Afterwards, he became assistant to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee from 1947 to 1948. He continued as staff aide to three Secretaries of Defense: James Forrestal, General George Marshall and Robert A. Lovett from 1948 to 1953.
He then went on to work in the private sector for a number of years, spending 7 years as partner of an international consulting firm: Cresap, McCormick and Paget.
In 1964, he returned to public service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International affairs. From 1965 to 1967, he was Principal Deputy for International Security Affairs at the Pentagon.
Serving as Under Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon from 1967 to 1969, he witnessed firsthand the effect of the 1968 Tet Offensive, and Lyndon B. Johnson's subsequent decision to de-escalate the war in Vietnam.
After leaving the government, he became fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for two years. From 1973 to 1986, Hoopes became president of the Association of American Publishers.
In a telephone conversation between Richard Nixon and Charles Colson, taped on July 1, 1971, Colson relates the news that Lyndon Johnson privately believed that Hoopes had played a role in releasing the Pentagon Papers to the press, and that he would have liked to see Hoopes taken to court by the government alongside various newspapermen.
He also became co-chairman of Americans for SALT, director of the American Committee on U.S. Soviet Relations, and a distinguished international executive at the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2002, he became senior fellow of Washington College.
- 1974 Bancroft Prize
Hoopes was a prolific writer of books and articles. His 1969 book The Limits of Intervention (ISBN 0-393-30427-2) is the most widely known. As well as serving as his memoir, the book offered the insider's view of the post-Tet Offensive decision making within the Pentagon, especially that of Secretary of Defense Clark M. Clifford. The book described how the Tet Offensive destroyed the support for continuing campaigns of aerial bombardment and ground search & destroy missions, creating instead the view that further escalation was futile. In a Washington Post article a year later, he acknowledged "that the Tet Offensive was not the shattering military defeat for the U.S. and South Vietnamese forces it appeared to both Washington and the American people."
His other writings include:
- The Devil and John Foster Dulles (1973), received Bancroft Prize, ISBN 0-316-37235-8
- Eye Power (1979), written with his wife, ISBN 0-394-50023-7
- Townsend Hoopes on Arms Control (1987), a collection of his essays and speeches, ISBN 0-8191-6622-7
- Townsend Hoopes, Douglas Brinkley (1992). Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal. ISBN 1-55750-334-6.
- Townsend Hoopes, Douglas Brinkley (2000). FDR and the Creation of the U.N.. ISBN 978-0-300-08553-2.
- A Textured Web (2002), fiction, ISBN 1-4010-5401-3
- Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb (September 25, 2004). "Townsend Hoopes Dies; Wrote About Vietnam". Washington Post.
- Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-72091-7.
- WOLFGANG SAXON (October 10, 2004). "Townsend Hoopes, 82, Author Who Wrote About Vietnam, Dies". The New York Times.
Norman S. Paul
|United States Under Secretary of the Air Force
September 1967 – February 1969
John L. McLucas