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America won the cold war, what Derek Leebaert calls a "muffled world war" in The Fifty-Year Wound, but the cost of victory--psychically, morally, and financially--was beyond frightful. The Soviet Union collapsed peacefully; civilization survived "more or less" intact; the world was "liberalized," and the cold war period was the longest "great power" peace since Rome fell. But a half-century "pattern of alarm" and the "industry of national security" curbed freedoms, diverted talent into "fundamentally unproductive" fields, postponed research, "trammeled" investment, and caused a national "waste of spirit." As well, Leebaert suggests the Cuban missiles were primarily psychological threats; American involvement in Vietnam led to OPEC's economic muscle; Kennedy was perhaps the most hawkish of post-WWII presidents, and that the events of September 11 were a direct cold war legacy. This massive, comprehensive, and stern but guardedly optimistic overview will reward the determined reader with its insights and hundreds of telling, sometimes shocking, details. --H. O'Billovitch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Leebaert, a founding editor of the journal International Security and lecturer in government at Georgetown, recalls how Paul Nitze, a long-time Cold Warrior, said at the turn of the 21st century that "we did a goddamn good job" with the Cold War. Leebaert answers that assessment in his sure-to-be-controversial and riveting book, in which heretofore unpublished documents and new analyses combine to create a lucid, balanced and in-depth study of the issue. "Well," Leebaert writes, "yes and no: yes if the overriding emphasis is that civilization survived more or less intact, that the Soviet Union collapsed peacefully, and that most of the world was liberalized along the way; no if we dwell on the indirection, inexcusable ignorance, political intrusions, personal opportunism, and crimes underlying this ultimate victory." What, in other words, did we lose in order to win?After relatively few pages outlining the postwar crises and confrontations up to 1950 and the Korean War, Leebaert begins what becomes a brilliant and highly quotable examination of what went right and what went wrong mostly wrong, he argues as the U.S. went from containment of a virulent and ominous U.S.S.R. to abetting its collapse. According to Leebaert, the often astonishing history of our recent past has numerous villains the CIA, the Pentagon, "systems analysis" technicians, a greedy "scientific and technological elite" and what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial-congressional complex." But Ike himself is one of Leebaert's heroes, as are Truman, Marshall and Reagan (he credits the latter with accelerating the end of the Cold War). Others, such as Kennedy and Nixon, get rough treatment (for them, the presidency was "a means for displaying planetary ambitions"), as do political gurus such as Kennan and Kissinger. America had to face down the Soviets almost alone, hindered, Leebaert asserts, by the rapaciousness of the OPEC nations and the self-interest of not only the rebuilding Japan, but of France and Britain as well. He considers the Korean War to have been "the detonator that blew U.S. power around the world" and that ended any chance of post-WWII American isolationism; the Chernobyl disaster,he contends, symbolized the Soviet empire's long slide into ineptitude and paralysis. His claim, however, that the greatest Cold War nuclear crisis came not from missiles in Cuba during the Kennedy years, but from the paranoid and disintegrating Andropov in 1983, will raise some eyebrows. Much happened in the 50 years that was "harmful to American life," Leebaert writes, and many of those costs emerge as frighteningly high in this analysis. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A poorly structured jumble of corrective insights into the history of the Cold War. Most insights are interesting, some are brilliant, some are silly. Read morePublished 1 month ago by advokat
This may be one of the best overviews of historical events since the end of WWII. Based on the 4-year terms of presidents, it ends with Reagan, but covers all the dumb moves that... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Devereaux
this book is full of facts that never saw the light of day in a class room. my mother in law got it and I read it and then bought it for my husband to read.... Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by Terry Pelletier
As another Amazon reviewer put it: "The book is simply too sloppily written to be comprehended economically. Read morePublished on June 28, 2012 by Carl Ramm
More alternative history -- this time it's an "imaginary Berlin summit" in June, 1988, which didn't ever. Read morePublished on November 21, 2005 by Betty Burks
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. The writing is crisp and thought-provoking and the research is exhaustive. Read morePublished on April 9, 2004 by William A. Daunch
The book, The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Shapes Our World, maintains a focus on the half-century's flow of events. Read morePublished on December 31, 2003