A trove of important papers that shed new light on a critical era.

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THE REAGAN FILES

THE UNTOLD STORY OF REAGAN’S TOP-SECRET EFFORTS TO WIN THE COLD WAR (BASED UPON OVER 100 RECENTLY DECLASSIFIED TOP-SECRET LETTERS AND NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES)

Ronald Reagan and his advisers wage a twilight struggle with a decaying Soviet Union—and each other—in this fascinating documentary history.

Was the 40th president a warmonger or a peacemaker? Both sides of that debate will find support in this collection of newly declassified White House papers from the 1980s. Saltoun-Ebin, a researcher at the Reagan Presidential Library, assembles minutes of National Security Council meetings where Reagan and his top cabinet officers and aides hashed out a line on the Soviets, personal letters in which Reagan and Soviet leaders lectured and prodded one another and transcripts of key summit discussions between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that led to the great geopolitical thaw. These documents, illuminated by the editor’s helpful explanatory notes, describe a long ideological journey: Reagan enters office a fervent Cold War warrior—“The Soviets have spoken as plainly as Hitler did…they speak world domination”—pressing for military buildup and stiff sanctions to strangle the Russian economy; he leaves inking breakthrough nuclear arms-control agreements. The documents display Reagan’s cogent grasp of policy and his nose for evolving possibilities. They also demonstrate the importance of his visionary idealism; one of the book’s revelations is how decisively his Strategic Defense Initiative, which he envisioned sharing with the Soviets in a bid to abolish all nuclear weapons, shaped American policy. (Whether SDI, which was rabidly opposed by the Soviets, curtailed or prolonged the Cold War is a question not entirely settled here.) Most of all, the documents are a vivid record of high-level statecraft. We see clashing egos and emotional outbursts—“We can’t be supplicants crawling, we can’t look like failures,” the President agonizes while pondering nuclear talks—at the NSC; we listen as Reagan and Gorbachev fence and fume while subtly edging toward crucial diplomatic compromises. Scholars will find this collection an invaluable resource, and interested lay readers will be captivated by its portrait of Reagan and other leaders grappling with history.

A trove of important papers that shed new light on a critical era.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1453633052

Page Count: 480

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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