Books by Zbigniew Brzezinski

Released: Jan. 24, 2012

"An urgent call for 'historic renewal' by one of America's sharpest minds."
Jimmy Carter's national security advisor offers an astute, elegant appraisal of the waning of America's "global appeal" and the severe consequences of the shifting of power from West to East. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 29, 1997

The former national security advisor is still a believer in geopolitics after all these years. Like most foreign-policy aficionados weaned on the Cold War, Brzezinski (Out of Control, 1993) has been forced by the disintegration of the Soviet Union to broaden his perspective—but not very far. He sees the US as the only global superpower, but inability to maintain its hegemony indefinitely means that ``geostrategic skill'' is essential. To what end is not specified beyond the vague shaping of ``a truly cooperative global community'' that is in ``the fundamental interests of humankind,'' but in this genre, goals are commonly assumed rather than examined. In any case, Brzezinski casts Eurasia as the playing field upon which the world's fate is determined and analyzes the possibilities in Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Balkans (interpreted broadly), and the Far East. Like a grandmaster in chess, he plots his strategy several moves in advance, envisioning a three-stage development. Geopolitical pluralism must first be promoted to defuse challenges to America, then compatible international partners must be developed to encourage cooperation under American leadership, and finally the actual sharing of international political responsibility can be considered. The twin poles of this strategy are a united Europe in the West and China in the East; the central regions are more problematic and, for Brzezinski, not as critical in constructing a stable balance of power. This updated version of East-West geopolitics is worth taking seriously but it is also an amazing example of how a perspective can be revised without actually being rethought. (Radio satellite tour) Read full book review >
Released: April 12, 1993

A brilliant and principled analysis of the perilous state of a fractious world as it approaches another millennium. Brzezinski (The Grand Failure, 1989, etc.), director of the National Security Council during the Carter Administration, offers an unsparing appraisal of the current century and views the next with considerable skepticism, even trepidation. Looking backward, he accords short shrift to Communism, Nazism, and other totalitarian movements that attempted, at staggering cost, to establish coercive utopias. But while yesteryear's metamyths have been thoroughly discredited, the author remains unconvinced that liberal democracy can fill the resultant vacuums. Indeed, he contends, the West's advanced, affluent societies could forfeit their influence if they don't halt a self-indulgent slide into conspicuous consumption and relativist hedonism. Although the cold war's end has left the planet with but one superpower, Brzezinski insists that America must be guided by globally relevant virtues if it is to exercise authentic authority. In light of the geopolitical instability exacerbated by the Soviet Union's collapse, the author says, America's socioeconomic and cultural woes may undermine its capacity to control events, and, unless the country sets its own house in order (e.g., by forsaking permissiveness and reaffirming bedrock moral values), US ascendancy may be short-lived. Brzezinski identifies regional belligerencies in Eurasia, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the continuation of the conflicts that pit South against North, and the risk of a fascist renaissance as obstacles to the creation of a consensus that could make the world a comparatively peaceable kingdom. A masterful, if dour, synthesis. (First serial to World Monitor) Read full book review >
Released: March 8, 1989

An engrossing and generally persuasive case for the proposition that international communism is, if not dying, at least fading away. Director of the National Security Council during the Carter Administration, Brzezinski (Game Plan, Power and Principle, etc.) offers an unsparing appraisal of a sociopolitical doctrine that once threatened to take the 20th century by storm. As a practical matter, he concludes, global communism has foundered, not prospered. In the USSR, the author notes, Gorbachev's renewal efforts have produced unintended consequences, including divisive debates over the Communist Party's stewardship and de facto subversion of the system's ideological foundations. Communism's "fatal dilemma" in the Soviet Union, he asserts, is that "its economic success can only be purchased at the cost of political stability, while its political stability can only be sustained at the cost of economic failure." No longer a relevant model, the USSR, Brzezinski argues, is losing its grip on long-restive Eastern Europe satellites. Nor is the Maxist/Leninist line faring at all well in the Third World, where, he contends, nations "now equate Soviet-style communism with arrested development." In the meantime, the author makes clear, China's commercially oriented pragmatists are marching to the beat of a different drummer, as are nationalists in ethnic republics like the Ukraine. And Gorbachev's success or failure with perestroika is almost beside the point so far as Brzezinski is concerned. The central issue, in his opinion, is whether the Soviet brand of communism is evolving toward a more permissive and innovative future—or is decaying, even self-destructing. To the extent that genuine pluralism strikes him as an unlikely prospect, the author is not sanguine on this score; the most probable scenario is a lengthy period of inconclusive conflict that could aggravate communism's systemic crisis. While the Kremlin may boast a handful of liberals, he observes, it has virtually no democrats. An instructive and accessible audit of a secular creed that has encountered increasingly tougher going in the marketplace of ideas. Read full book review >