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Former U.S. president George Bush sounds relaxed and reinvigorated as he recounts the major events of the first two years of his presidency, 1989-1991. Those were remarkable times, encompassing the end of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe and the Gulf War, and his voice captures his own wonder that they happened on his watch and that he successfully dealt with them. Brent Scowcroft, Bush's national security advisor, also narrates parts of the tape, explaining his big-picture take on events that Bush relates on a more personal level. Other parts of A World Transformed, those involving neither author's point of view, are read by Condoleeza Rice, former special assistant to the president for the Soviet Union. (Running time: three hours, two cassettes) --Lou Schuler
From Library Journal
The former president and his national security adviser offer a behind-the-scenes look at his administration. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
I did not have high expectations for this book, given the dramatically uneven quality of most historical memoirs. But Bush and Scowcroft's book manages to give a fly-on-the-wall view of the truly epoch-making events that took place on their watch. Now it's hard to believe that all this (and more) took place during only one presidential term, but it's clear that in the center of the storm there was a remarkably unified team with the ability to see a few steps ahead -- and even more importantly, understand the consequences of American action. It's not enough for the US to simply follow trends, sabre-rattle, or hew to the middle path. The crucial role of leadership, particularly in the face of dissent, comes through clearly.
The best feature about the book is undoubtedly the unique "three-voiced" way of telling the story -- Bush, Scowcroft, and the 'narrarator' that reflects both their input. I was skeptical that they'd be able to pull this off, but they did. While most historical memoirs either read like something put together by a staff of research assistants (Kissinger and Nixon's books come to mind) or are exercises in score-settling (Brzezinski, to a degree), this one really gives a sense of both mens' attitudes and beliefs -- and they're pretty forthcoming about both their counterparts and their own errors.