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The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism Hardcover – May 26, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0813123929 ISBN-10: 0813123925

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (May 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123929
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,656,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spalding, director of the Washington Program at Claremont McKenna College, claims the 33rd president "conceived, enunciated, and directed the strategy of containment" that fueled postwar US-Soviet relations in this flawed, dry political history. Truman inaugurated two major initiatives to stem what he saw as the march of communism across Europe: the Truman Doctrine, "the primary building block of containment" which proclaimed that the US would support "free peoples" resisting outside (read: Soviet) domination; and the Marshall Plan, which helped Western Europeans rebuild and "permitted the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist." Spalding argues that it was presidential advisor Clark Clifford, in a memo that integrated Truman's words and actions with administration policies from 1947 to 1949, that formed the basis of containment, and not usual suspect George Kennan in his article "Sources of Soviet Conduct." Among other elements, the memo emphasized that the Soviets were bent on "a chief goal of domination," a thesis counter to Kennan's view of the Soviet Union as a "nonimperialistic" actor. But dislodging Kennan from his perch as the pre-eminent Cold War theoretician is a Herculean task. Arguably, one of the elephants in the room is leading Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis, a proponent of Kennan-centered containment, whose work is only addressed in the final pages. An analysis of the moral underpinnings of Truman's containment is also left until the end, making the questions of morality and religion Spalding raises seem tangential at best.
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"Truman supporters will praise the volume... Recommended." -- Choice

"Offers a powerful example of how prudently to derive, articulate, and persuade principled political ends.... We owe Spalding a debt of gratitude for shedding important new light on the Truman Administration and on the character of its central figure." -- Claremont Review of Books

"This is an excellent book for those passionate about the evolution of America's national security and grand strategies pursued during the Cold War." -- Great lakes Bulletin

"Spalding's new book indicates what may become a new strain in the study of American foreign policy." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"An important reevaluation of Truman. " -- Ron Radosh, TNR blog

""This Harry Truman biography is more academic than most books about his colorful personality and presidency. Spalding's final chapter is a substantive treatment of Truman's underestimated faith, particularly in relation to his Cold War anti-Communism."" -- Paul Kengor, Christianity Today

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alfie Mac on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Prof. Spalding's little study of Harry Truman's coming to grips with the developing Cold War must enthrall some historians and Truman fans. While other writers are enlarging Truman's role in formulating the geographic containment of the Soviet Union, Spalding elevates Truman to mythical statuses of thought and action on a par with Lincoln's. At times she reduces Winston Churchill to but a glib flack for Trumanesque wisdom: "he invited Winston Churchill to give the Fulton (College) address (on the Iron Curtain) of March, 1946, relying on him to articulate and underscore the stakes of the Cold War to the American public as only Churchill could". George Kennan's spring, 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow was, Ms. Spalding opines, overshadowed by a 100,000 word tome written by an obscure White House aide in the name of close Truman confidant Clark Clifford. She admits that the Clifford report is "often overlooked or dismissed as overzealous anticommunism", yet credits it as "the theoretical basis of containment". Truman biographer David McCullough does credit Clifford and aide George Elsey for work on the President's announcement of the Truman Doctrine. Finally, Ms. Spalding trods the halls of Marxism, asserting the Trumanesque belief that Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito would have attempted to unseat Stalin as leader of the Communist Bloc if only Yugoslavia's army had been a tad stronger. A pretty thought, but if she is correct, Truman's view of 1948 Balkan events exaggerated the point of resurging Yugoslav nationalistic Marxism. She also fails to deal with US covert operations aimed at causing mischief in Soviet satellites.
A strong spin on still evolving respect for Truman, but one that left this writer not toally convinced.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mcabooks on May 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Democrats struggling to develop a foreign policy vision in the post-9/11 world would do well to study Harry Truman's tough response to Soviet aggression following the Second World War. This book, based on years of primary research, is an excellent introduction to the subject.
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