NOT FOR AMERICA ALONE by George J. Mitchell


The Triumph of Democracy and the Fall of Communism
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 It's not clear whom the triumph of democracy was for if not America, but the question of whom this book is for is even more puzzling. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader (D-Maine), weaves his family history and personal observations into a sweeping survey of the major domestic and international political events of the 20th century. The Cold War, culminating with the demise of Communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, receives special attention along with the world wars and the Depression. Against this background Mitchell considers the origins of Marxist ideology and the development of Communism in the Soviet Union from Lenin to Stalin to Gorbachev, and the development of American political ideology from Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Clinton. Although he writes in the first person, Mitchell limits his personal anecdotes to interactions with Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of perestroika; personal judgments, which are only mildly partisan by contemporary standards, are a minor element of the book. In the final two chapters, history gives way to current events in a general survey of pressing contemporary domestic and international issues. Throughout the effort is thoughtful, balanced, and basically superficial. One question, then, is why anyone would bother to read it. Without extensive accounts of first-hand experience or novel and controversial interpretations of events, this is little more than an intelligent gloss over familiar ground. The more intriguing question is why this sensible and sensitive individual spent his time writing this odd mix of popular history, personal presentation, and scholarly reserve. The American public would be better served by having Mitchell back in the Senate or some other high office than writing books like this one.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56836-083-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Kodansha
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997


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