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A World Transformed [Hardcover]

by George Bush
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 14, 1998 0679432485 978-0679432487 1
It was one of the pivotal times of the twentieth century--during George Bush's presidency, an extraordinary series of international events took place that materially changed the face of the world. Now, former President Bush and his national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, tell the story of those tumultuous years.

Here are behind-the-scenes accounts of critical meetings in the White House and of summit conferences in Europe and the United States, interspersed with excerpts from Mr. Bush's diary. We are given fresh and intriguing views of world leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, and François Mitterrand--and witness the importance of personal relationships in diplomacy. There is the dramatic description of how President Bush put together the alliance against Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War. There are the intensive diplomatic exchanges with Beijing following the events of Tiananmen Square, and the intricate negotiations leading up to German reunification. And there is the sometimes poignant, sometimes grim portrayal of Gorbachev's final years in power.

A World Transformed is not simply a record of accomplishment; Bush and Scowcroft candidly recount how the major players sometimes disagreed over issues, and analyze what mistakes were made. This is a landmark book on the conduct of American foreign policy--and how that policy is crucial to the peace of the world. It is a fascinating inside look at great events that deepens our understanding of today's global issues.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

George Bush's term as President occurred during a watershed era for international politics. In fact, so many major events took place on his watch that he limits A World Transformed to the years 1989 to 1991, in which the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the Persian Gulf War held center stage. Though some will claim that this narrow focus only confirms Bush's disproportionate interest in foreign rather than domestic affairs, the events in question certainly warrant a book of their own. Perhaps anticipating such a response, Bush hints in the introduction that further memoirs are in the works.

A World Transformed is divided into three voices: Bush, his coauthor and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and the collective "we" of the National Security Council (supplying vital background information and a wider view of the events discussed). Overall, this formula works--Bush's tone is particularly warm and chatty, his narrative peppered with telling anecdotes that reveal the personalities and emotions behind the bold-faced headlines. His remarks are mostly to the point, gratifyingly lucid, and often compelling. Diary excerpts supply many memorable insights, if few truly shocking revelations. For instance, at the end of the Persian Gulf War, he wrote: "Isn't it a marvelous thing that this little country will be liberated.... The big news, of course, is this high performance of our troops--the wonderful job they've done; the conviction that we're right and the others are wrong. We're doing something decent, and we're doing something good; and Vietnam will soon be behind us.... It's surprising how much I dwell on the end of the Vietnam syndrome."

In describing his interaction with other world leaders, Bush emerges as a skillful negotiator and statesman, fostering a personal, first-name-basis style of diplomacy that proved especially effective with Mikhail Gorbachev and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Scowcroft, the consummate support man and workaholic, focuses more on the nuts and bolts, balancing out their presentation of how crises are dealt with at the highest level. --Shawn Carkonen

From Library Journal

All presidential memoirs are efforts to write and influence history so as to put the author in the most favorable light possible. This book is no exception. However, this is a memoir with a difference. Jointly authored by former President Bush and his national security adviser and focusing not on the entirety of his presidency but on a few key foreign policy issues (the end of the Cold War, Desert Storm, the collapse of the Soviet Union), this book presents parallel descriptions by the two principals from different but related vantage points. Also included are excerpts from President Bush's diary and brief commentary providing context for the events. The unusual style of the memoir works very well, and Scowcroft's comments function as a constant reality check on Bush's more optimistic and at times simplistic explanations. While there are some serious gaps (e.g., virtually no mention of the New World Order), this book is required reading for anyone interested in the momentous changes of the Bush years.?Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 587 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679432485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679432487
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and Thrilling Account of Historic Change October 22, 1999
Format:Paperback
George Bush and Brent Scowcroft have written a great book about a fascinating subject. This is very engaging and at times is very much a page turner. I was left thinking that a more detailed account of history being made by the movers themselves may not exist. The end of the Cold War is a great story in and of itself, but also a story that could have had a very different ending were it not for the team that managed to bring it to a successful close.
This is a very honest book by honest men. Evenly though successful on all of the big issues, they write of miscues, uncertainty and difficulties in reaching the "right" decision. It is not a self-praise tome, but a book that is not afraid to lay out an accurate rendering of the facts and atmosphere. The reader has enough information and background to put himself in the role of President and ask, "What would I have done in that siguation." It's the mark of a thorough book.
One can not help but come away impressed by the Bush foreign policy apparatus and the President's own grasp of events, the players and the vital interests of the United States. He, aided by one of the best foreign policy / national security teams ever assembled, played America's hand superbly.
After reading this book, anyone who still believes that any President's main responsibility is "the economy, stupid" is.....well, stupid.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insider insights August 26, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm no expert on the end of the Cold War, nor on the many issues Bush and Scowcroft discuss. There are too many people who argue that the end of the Cold War had everything or nothing to do with Ronald Reagan. As Bush and Scowcroft make plain, intentionally or not, change was coming around too quickly for anyone to claim credit. I know the standard story-line: Reagan raised defense spending and this drove the Soviets to spend until they collapsed. It's a simple story, but it leaves out far too much to be accurate. Bush was on the tail end of a decades-long strategy of containment; thankfully all presidents stood their ground in confronting the Soviets. Perhaps we should all recognize how fortunate we were to have Bush and Scowcroft in leadership positions for the four years they served as President and National Security Adviser. Admittedly cautious, they used their time wisely in dealing with the Soviet Union.

Very thorough in dealing with German reunification and in standing up to Saddam. It's amazing to read the Gulf War stuff: Bush and Scowcroft discuss the importance of alliances, the UN Security Council, containment, and the difficulties of urban warfare. Apparently someone's son did not read the book. Are we better off or worse off for that? Time will tell.

In a sense the book is not co-written because the two authors go back and forth in describing their different memories of the four Bush White House years. An original approach.

Unfortunately, no discussion on the U.S. invasion of Panama.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Detailed May 21, 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book is the step by step discussion of the major foreign affaire issues that took place during first Bush presidency. To say this book is detailed would be to say the Battan Death March was a "tough hike". The book covers the years 1989 to 1991, more specifically (only) the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the USSR, and the Gulf War. The book is written in an interesting way - Bush and Scowcroft give their views on each of the issues and then combine for a third voice that gives more of a back ground commentary. We also get some of Bush's "dear diary" entries, which given he wrote the book, I wonder if we saw the original entries. This style does make the book more readable, although Scowcroft's writing could compete in excitement with watching grass grow.
Bush does come across as an excellent statesman in dealing with world leaders. He presents a warm down home type of President that worked with some of the leaders he dealt with. The reader also gets an interesting insight into some of the leaders that Bush dealt with (Hussain, Gorbachev and Kohl) to name a few. In the details of the Gulf War, he also comes off as being a skillful negotiator that kept the war effort together. I think it also shows that to be a good world leader you must develop personal relationships with other world leaders. Bush comes off as such a good foreign policy man that it almost adds to the impression that he had no clue what was going on at home.
Again, the book was full of details - - too much dry detail at times. Some of the talk about how minor issues were resolved could have been left on the cutting room floor and the book would have been the better for it. I did feel that we were short-changed on the Tiananmen Square uprising in China.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bush Does Well March 20, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
G. Bush gives us his acount of how things occured during his administration. It is always tough to be totally unbiased when writing about oneself. But I think that he does about as good of a job as can be expected. I was impressed with the detail that I was presented with. I did not read this book for the purpose of being moved by action packed stories. I wanted a good insight into those difficult times towards the end of the Cold War and I got just that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal Diplomacy
Authors George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft were both actors and observers in the grand sweep of world change during the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Bush was the U.S. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John M. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
This is a must read for understAnding the actual events of history and not sound bites. Great display and use of morAl clarity
Published 9 months ago by sleep traveller
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding study in leadership
Having read many books on leadership, this is the one I most treasure and share as widely as I can. It provides an intimate view into the foreign policy decision making of two very... Read more
Published on February 29, 2008 by Carlisle J. Levine
3.0 out of 5 stars Jumpy...skip to better alternatives
I tried to force down "A World Transformed" after reading George H. W. Bush's outstanding letter- and note-based memoir "All the Best. Read more
Published on February 6, 2003 by Andy Orrock
4.0 out of 5 stars The definitive account of the end of the Cold War
A vital part of understanding the end of the Cold War. The book is at its most vivid and engaging during it's description of the events leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall,... Read more
Published on June 22, 2000 by Kevin Lane
4.0 out of 5 stars Days that shaped our world
I read the book with amazement. I thought it both profound in the efforts to grapple with the end of the Cold War and the lengths that were taken to deal with international... Read more
Published on March 10, 2000 by Tom Palermo
1.0 out of 5 stars Not now, not ever
A feeble attempt to preserve a legacy. We've been dissecting this book at our lunchtime foreign policy discussion group. Read more
Published on December 28, 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting format, a bit disjointed though
This reminds me of the "high performance car, low performance driver" thoughts I have as I watch some bad guy on those reality based TV shows wreck as they are chased by... Read more
Published on November 17, 1999 by John Malcolm
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding masterpiece!
As a life-long "liberal" I was very skeptical of a book written by two Republicans, but also being fascinated by "geo-politics" I gave it a try - and WOW! Read more
Published on October 7, 1999
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