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Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World Hardcover – October 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Historians of the Cold War have long criticized U.S. leaders for unsophisticated and heavy-handed policies toward the Third World. Robert Rakove convincingly challenges this view, demonstrating that for a few years in the early 1960s, U.S. decision makers embraced a remarkably nuanced, tolerant approach to India, Egypt, and other 'nonaligned' nations. The book fundamentally alters our understanding of John F. Kennedy and underscores the tragedy that occurred when subsequent presidents abandoned his approach. Anyone interested in the Cold War and the roots of present-day tensions between the United States and the developing world will gain much from this elegantly crafted, deeply researched study." - Mark Atwood Lawrence, University of Texas at Austin

"In recent years, the tangled course of the Cold War in the Third World has inspired a vigorous scholarly debate. This outstanding monograph, which examines the ultimately unsuccessful U.S. efforts to gain the support and sympathy of the nonaligned nations, makes an essential contribution to that debate. Based on deep, multinational research, Robert Rakove's authoritative study gives us the fullest and most sophisticated study yet of the uneasy encounter between the United States and the nonaligned movement during a crucial decade." - Robert J. McMahon, Ralph D. Merson Professor, Ohio State University

"The nonaligned movement was one of the most important developments of the Cold War, and yet, as Robert Rakove notes in this stimulating and fascinating book, historians have paid it very little attention. By examining the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' approach to the nonaligned movement, Rakove helps fill a large gap in the existing literature." - Andrew Preston, Cambridge University

"The best overview of U.S. policy toward the Third World in the 1960 in existence - a true feat of scholarship and synthesis." - O. A. Westad, author of Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750 (2012)

"...a well-crafted, clearly written overview based on a wide reading of documentary sources; it will add to the growing body of work that takes a more sympathetic attitude toward Kennedy's stewardship of U.S. foreign policy." -Matthew Jones, The Journal of American History

Book Description

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy initiated a bold new policy of engaging states that had chosen to remain nonaligned in the Cold War. Robert B. Rakove examines the brief but eventful life of this engagement policy during Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson's presidencies. Engagement initially met with real success, but it faltered in the face of regional and domestic conflicts, disputes over foreign aid, and the Vietnam War. Its failure paved the way for a period of lasting hostility between the United States and the Third World.

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More About the Author

Robert Rakove is a historian who studies American foreign policy during the Cold War. He is particularly interested in the (generally destructive) interaction between the Cold War and the decolonization of Africa and Asia. His first book, "Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World" examines a critical phase in the evolving relationship between the United States and the Third World. He is presently at work on a history of the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan during the early and middle Cold War. In September 2012, he began work as a lecturer at Stanford University.

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