A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of 17 books, David Halberstam has a gift for bringing current events alive and putting them into historical perspective in an engaging way. In many respects, War in a Time of Peace
serves as a sequel to his classic The Best and the Brightest
in its examination of how the lessons of Vietnam have influenced American foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. Beginning with the Persian Gulf War, Halberstam discusses the political shift in emphasis from foreign to domestic issues that ushered in the first Clinton administration. Despite the fact that Clinton, along with much of the country, preferred to focus on the home front, the U.S. nonetheless found itself drawn into conflicts in Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans--events that reflected American discomfort with the use of its military forces abroad while at the same time acknowledging that much of the world is dependent upon the U.S. for both guidance and support. The book also highlights the many nonpolitical factors that have influenced these political changes, including a generational shift in national leadership, the modern media's emphasis on entertainment over foreign news, a leap in military technology, and American economic prosperity that has rendered foreign policy largely irrelevant to many citizens.
Halberstam is a master at presenting well-rounded portraits and telling anecdotes of the personalities that have created U.S. policy, casting new light on well-known figures such as Clinton, Colin Powell, and George H.W. Bush, as well as supporting players such as Anthony Lake, Richard Holbrooke, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, General Wesley Clark, Al Gore, and many other influential American leaders of the past decade. Having covered many aspects of American history and foreign policy since the early 1960s, Halberstam is uniquely qualified to report on an era in which the U.S., and the world, has changed so dramatically. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
Events and personalities clash in this extraordinary sequel to Halberstam's classic examination of America's road to Vietnam, The Best and the Brightest (to be reissued in September by Modern Library). Thirty years on, the world is a different place; no longer clearly divided between good guys (us) and bad guys (the Soviets), the danger lies in local wars of ethnic and nationalist hatreds. If America, looking inward and little concerned with the wider world, was too quick to use power in Vietnam, it is now too confused if not too unwilling to know how to use it. Bush the elder, despite his triumph in the Gulf War, is replaced by Clinton, a leader more in tune with America's desires. But the world will not go away: disaster strikes in Somalia as a dead American soldier is dragged through the streets for the world to see. The military are confirmed in their distrust of the brash politician Clinton, a "flirt and seducer," and harden their resistance especially Colin Powell's to the commitment of U.S. military power without a clear plan and purpose. With all of this in play, Halberstam's central story unfolds: the U.S. reaction to the crimes and aggression of the Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. Clinton advisors and the military thrust and parry for years as the carnage continues, and while eventually a U.S.-dominated air war does drive Milosevic from power, the broader question of America's role in a new world remains unanswered. This is vintage Halberstam, combining sharp portraits of the political players Bush, Clinton, Powell, Madeleine Albright, and so many others with nuanced reportage of the events they shape and are shaped by. (Sept.) Forecast: This will be reviewed everywhere, and Halberstam will do a seven-city tour that will undoubtedly include lots of national media (Charlie Rose is already booked). Bestsellerdom is a definite possibility, with a first printing of 100,000 and first serial to Vanity Fair. The book is also a BOMC alternate.
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