Rostow, Walt Whitman, 1916–2003, U.S. economist and government official, brother of Eugene Rostow, b. New York City. A Yale Ph.D. (1940) and Rhodes scholar, he served (1942–45) with the covert Office of Strategic Services during World War II and later was (1950–61) a professor of economic history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As chairman (1961–66) of the policy planning council of the State Dept., and later as special assistant for national security affairs (1966–69) to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Rostow exerted a major influence on U.S. foreign policy and strongly advocated the escalating military intervention in Vietnam (see Vietnam War). He became (1969) professor of economics and history at the Univ. of Texas. An important economic theorist, Rostow formulated significant theories of economic growth, taking an historical approach. His books include The Stages of Economic Growth (1960, 2d ed. 1971) and The World Economy (1978).
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