A CONSTRUCTED PEACE

THE MAKING OF THE EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT, 1945-1963

paper 0-691-00273-8 An impressive account of what really happened during the Cold War. A happy byproduct of the recent international thaw is the freeing of scholars from ideological assumptions. In this tour-de-force of diplomatic history Trachtenberg (History/Univ. of Pennsylvania) steps outside the Cold War mindset that has often rendered barren discussions of the post-WWII era and explores a seemingly endless stream of primary documents in pursuit of a more subtle and less political explanation of events. What he finds is not a simple, dualistic struggle between capitalism/democracy and communism, but rather a clash over the traditional elements of international relations’sovereignty and security—addressed through the traditional tools of international relations—military power and diplomacy—involving many players, not just a bipolar superpower world. The central theme throughout is the place of Germany in the postwar world. Trachtenberg traces the negotiations between the wartime Allies, the unraveling of the initial agreement, and the twists and turns of American policy in confronting the continuing dilemma of how to balance the need for Germany’s strength in establishing a credible NATO security alliance with the fears of a strong Germany present in both the Soviet Union and western Europe. Ultimately, a resolution emerged after the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the critical steps involved working out relations between the major NATO countries as much as or perhaps more than relations between the US and the Soviet Union. The scholarship is first-rate throughout and Trachtenberg backs up his more unorthodox interpretations with reams of evidence. The length, level of detail, and expository prose of this volume make it unlikely to hold the attention of casual readers, but scholars and those with a serious interest in international affairs or the history of the Cold War will find it a gold mine. The complex dance of foreign policy and international diplomacy is rarely presented with such clarity.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-691-00183-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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