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The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War Hardcover – March 5, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Mann is a dogged seeker after evidence and a judicious sifter of it. His verdict is convincing. The New York Times A compelling and historically significant story The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Mann is the senior writer in residence at the CSIS International Security Program and the author of two critically acclaimed books: About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China from Nixon to Clinton and Beijing Jeep. Previously, he was a long-time correspondent with the Los Angeles Times, and his writing has also appeared in The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1St Edition edition (March 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020546
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Bono on March 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the thesis of this book to ring true. The idea that Reagan on his own, came to conclusions at variance, with both his conservative base, and the "realist" school that included Nixon, Kissinger, and Snowcroft, has been repressed on both sides of the American political divide, for different reasons.

Some like to think of Ronald Reagan as either a rigid and narrow-minded, ideological Cold Warrior, in the school of Joe McCarthy...or, a conservative, neo-con, cowboy-saint, who single-handedly, won the Cold War by forcing the Soviets to capitulate in the face of our arms build-up, our Pershing missile deployment, and our moral vigor.

James Mann explodes both these misconceptions. His thesis is that eventually, Reagan saw in Mikhail Gorbachev...as good hearted man of flexible mind...and crucially, as man with whom he could negotiate. Reagan was aided in this effort by an extraordinary woman...a writer, with good contacts within the Soviet Union, and whom Reagan personally trusted to send and receive messages and overtures...as well as report her observations. In fact, he trusted this woman more than his conservative political base, and more than George Schultz and his own State Department.

It's an extraordinary story of the personal diplomacy of "trusting, but verifying". Mann documents that Reagan's real role was, in first understanding Gorbachev's internal political position, and responding to it in such as way as not to undermine the Kremlin politics that kept him on top. The fact that Reagan's arms build-up, in a way, actually helped to propel Gorbachev into power, is intriguing, for as Andropov's intelligence protege, he was trusted on security issues by the Soviet military and political establishment.
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Format: Hardcover
James Mann mantains that Ronald Reagan was able to look beyond both the Realist and Neoconservative tradtions of the Republican Party and developed a working relationship with Gorbachev. In the first part of the book, Mann discusses Nixon's troubled relationship with Reagan when it came to the Soviet Union. Nixon, had a Realist emphasis on balance of power and military might when it came to dealing with the Soviet Union while Reagan thought that the Cold War was a war over ideas in which the Russians would embrace American ideals. In the first part of Reagan's term Nixon felt that Reagan should at least talk to the Soviets and then criticized Reagan for being too close to the Soviets in the second term. Reagan disargeed with Nixon because he thought that the Russian people had abandoned Communism. The second part of the book describes how Suzanne Massie persuaded Reagan that the Russians hated Communism and that Gorbachev was a new kind of Soviet leader , who would embrace Western values. The third part of the book is about how this new vision of Gorbachev allowed Reagan to give the "tear down the wall," speech despite protests from Realist in the state department. The fourth part of the book Mann tells how Reagan infuriated both Realists and Neoconservatives alike by signing the INF treaty with Gorbachev. Mann contends that only Reagan could have signed that deal with Gorbachev since most other Republicans opposed that deal and a Democrat would have had a tough time passing that treaty through the senate.
Mann concludes by stating that Gorbachev was the main reason that Communism fell in Europe. Gorbachev tried to refrom the Communist Party and security services through reconciliation with the West.
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Format: Hardcover
The importance of Ronald Reagan is often being debated with books on both his greatness, sort of hagiographies, and those opposing places to much credit in him (Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future). This book attepts to examine Reagan from he standpoint of his 'rebellion' against the consensus on the right and left that the Soviet Union was a fact of life. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and other powerful voices in the Republican and Democratic parties believed the USSR was part of the status quo of the world, something that would always exist.

This book posits that Reagan and those around him imagined a world without the USSR and they sought to bring it about. This 'revolutionary' ideology meant that the State Department's current policies had to be pushed aside and instead of accomidating the USSR the U.S had to push against it, rather thanc containing, it had to be done away with.

Suprisingly Reagan found a sort of soul mate in Michael Gorbachev, who also sought radical reform in the USSR. In a freindship forged in ideological combat they together helped tear down the myth of Soviet invincibility. This book examines such famous incidents as the 'tear down this wall' speech. It shows that Reagan had a very real ideology that he pursued with vigor.

An important work. It doesn't highlight the role of the Afghan war at all and this is a major dificiency, but one filled by such books as Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times. For those interested in the Cold War and Reagan this is an important study from a master writer.

Seth J. Frantzman
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