A treasure-chest of significant papers that shed light on an important era.




Idealism, realpolitik and contentious personalities clash in this second installment of the author’s illuminating documentary history of the 40th president’s controversial foreign policy.

In this volume, historian Saltoun-Ebin (The Reagan Files, Vol. 1, 2010) presents recently declassified minutes and transcripts from Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council meetings, along with transcripts of summit conversations between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and related speeches, letters and press releases. Two great issues dominate the record. The first is the rivalry with the Soviet Union, stretching from efforts early in Reagan’s term to enforce economic sanctions and respond to communist Poland’s crackdown on Solidarity to later preoccupations with nuclear arms control agreements. The second is Central America policy, as the administration manages the counterinsurgency war in El Salvador and obsesses over the perceived threat from Cuba and Nicaragua; attempts to get around push back from a skeptical Congress eventually move the administration down the path toward the Iran-Contra scandal. Saltoun-Ebin’s adroit editing and useful background notes make the record of policy debates—pitting prickly hawks like Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Caspar Weinberger against wilier voices like Alexander Haig and George Shultz—both lucid and absorbing; there are even moments of high geopolitical drama when Reagan and Gorbachev’s tense one-on-one wranglings at the Reykjavik summit suddenly give way to breakthrough nuclear compromises. We get an insider’s view of a Reagan administration that’s savvy, calculating and realistic as it crafts covert operations, strategic leaks, publicity campaigns and international arm-twistings, but also prone to ideological fervors and bunker mentalities. (“There is nothing worse than being defeated by this man,” Reagan seethes during the brewing feud with Panamanian pipsqueak Manuel Noriega.) The proceedings reveal just how deep a stamp Reagan, whose statements the author helpfully formats in bold face, put on his foreign policy, particularly with his Strategic Defense Initiative; this radically idealistic departure from coldblooded strategic orthodoxy drove the eternally suspicious Gorbachev (and Reagan’s own advisers) to distraction—and yet it came to dominate, and almost derail, America’s arms control efforts. Researchers will find in these documents a valuable scholarly resource that exposes the human dimension of Cold War policymaking.

A treasure-chest of significant papers that shed light on an important era.

Pub Date: May 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469963266

Page Count: 568

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

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


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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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