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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981 Hardcover – March, 1983

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 587 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T) (March 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374236631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374236632
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leszek Strzelecki on July 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
While the earlier reviewers praise the book for many valuable in-sights into the inner workings of foreign policy-making, a thing I wholeheartedly agree, I disagree with their criticism over the perceived timidity of Brzezinski memoir. One should not confuse tough language for precise presentation of an argument. It's been a while since I read this book but the impression remains very strong and clear in my memory: there is no confusing of what Brzezinski's takes on Jimmy Carter, Cyrus Vance and other major players are. The fact that he writes with respect about all his counterparts regardless of possible deep disagreements is a sign of class, not timidity.

Same goes for his views on all the most important foreign affair issues of the day. Be it Iran, Middle East or Soviet Union the reader is left with no uncertainty as to what the right policy should have been and what mistakes, in Brzezinski's view, were committed. There is no need for punchline of pointing a finger at anybody. The reader can judge for himself.

Very good book, insightful. Strongly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Schoonmaker on April 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Zbigniew Brzezinski was the National Security Advisor (or Special Advisor to the President for National Security Affairs) for President Carter. This alone makes his memoirs useful reading for anyone interested in how the formulation of foreign policy works.
There are several caveats to keep in mind with this book. First and most important is that Brzezinski has always been an apologist for Carter, and this book reflects that fact, as well as Brzezinski's personal stake in portraying a foreign policy he helped formulate. Second, Brzezinski is very careful not to step on any toes. Brzezinski begins the book by explaining his relationship with the other major players, and he is very careful to express respect for them, personally as well as professionally. The book is carefully written so as not to cast anyone in an overly negative light, and this cuts down on its usefulness. Lastly, it occasionally reads like a copy of his schedule for the day-- 8:15 meeting with the President. Ate breakfast. Wrote a memo. However, the pace often picks up, and the format sometimes gives a useful insight into the workings of power in the White House.
That said, Brzezinski's memoirs give a fascinating insight into the formulation of foreign policy in recent history and a detailed explanation of the major events in foreign policy in the Carter era. The "close-in" format gives an interesting view of the nitty-gritty of diplomacy, and illustrates how useful proximity to the President can be in the internecine power games of the White House.
Not destined to be a classic on the shelves of those interested in foreign affairs, due to its unrefined quality and excessive care not to offend anyone, but a useful and interesting ready anyway.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on June 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The author was President Jimmy Carter's Assistant for National Security Affairs during his administration, which would lead one to believe that the book would be an interesting read. If there was one area that was interesting during the Carter years it was the foreign relations aspects of his administration so the author was in a unique position as far as exciting book writing is concerned. The author also is a man known to have a bit of n ego, thus I assumed the book would be a bit of a slash and burn tell all. To my surprise the author is a rather timid memoir writer, he did not go after anyone in the book.

The author claims and is probably truthful in that it was he who shaped the security policy of the U.S. during the Carter years. This book is a detailed account of his experiences in office. By detailed I mean that about the only thing the author left out was bathroom break times and lunch menu's. The listing of events and tasks almost read like and inventory list at times. He also tended to fall into the trap of many memoir writers, in that he felt that his story was one of great events and accomplishments. To be fair there were more events then most people give the Carter team credit for.

The area that I was attracted to the most was the detail on the Iranian issues. He covers what took place and if the U.S should have or could have saved the Shah. He touches on the people in the administration and gives the reader a run down of how the game is played in DC. Overall the book is somewhat interesting. It gets too detailed many times and you wish the author would have been a little bit nasty just to give the book some bite. He even went easy on the political guys, who probably could have been blamed for his quick departure from office. This book is for anyone interested in the Carter years or if you are just a political junky. I do not think you will find any exciting details, but the book does offer a nice overview of his time.
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