- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 16, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195152433
- ISBN-13: 978-0195152432
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,653,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kennedy's Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam
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John Kennedy's presidency has taken a beating in the historical literature of the past few years, in what Lawrence Freedman wryly calls "the drive to replace history as celebration by history as indictment." Kennedy's performance was, Freedman holds, mixed at best, but it reveals a complex personality and an equally complex set of viewpoints over how the United States could best maintain its role as world leader and contain communism.
Drawing on a wealth of new material--including a 25-volume official documentary history of U.S. foreign relations under Kennedy and declassified transcripts of Cabinet meetings held during the Cuban missile crisis--Freedman examines the intellectual and political contexts of the Kennedy administration, giving attention to largely overlooked actors such as Dean Acheson, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Theodore Sorensen, and Walt Rostow, all of whom influenced the conduct of the administration as it confronted military and political foes around the world. Freedman scrutinizes Kennedy's efforts to stabilize fledgling democracies and thwart communist designs in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Some of those efforts led to disaster, including Kennedy's misguided actions in Vietnam (which, the author argues, "compounded the folly of the Eisenhower administration"). Still, by the time of Kennedy's death, in November 1963, some of the administration's efforts had paid off. As Freedman notes, in October 1963, Nikita Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy to propose not only a program of arms control, but also a relaxation of tensions over the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, opening the way to the détente that would come only much later. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Freedman, a professor of war studies at Kings' College, London, studies the evolution of JFK's foreign-policy strategy. Freedman opens with several chapters on the cold war within a section that describes key New Frontiersmen, the worldview they brought to Washington, and the major issues they faced. Eight chapters are devoted to Berlin and nuclear strategy, 14 to Cuba, 4 to JFK's work on a test-ban treaty and on taking advantage of the Sino-Soviet split, and 11 to Laos and Vietnam. Freedman seeks a middle course between hagiographers and revisionists; he argues Kennedy had a thoughtful, consistent strategy "dominated by a determination to avoid . . . nuclear cataclysm . . . without giving ground in the cold war." A gracefully written, thoroughly documented analysis of a pivotal period in U.S. history. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.