A PREPONDERANCE OF POWER

NATIONAL SECURITY, THE TRUMAN ADMINISTRATION, AND THE COLD WAR

Massive, brilliant post-glasnost analysis of early cold-war realities by Leffler (History/Univ. of Virginia). This study of how Truman dealt with a world sealed off to him by FDR is a book and a half. It deals with the inception of the cold war in terms that make the Korean War a logical extension of existing policy rather than an atypical crystallizing event. It penetrates the strident rhetoric that gripped American thinking for 40 years down to the eternal verities of economic advantage and the pursuit of power, carefully articulating their linkage and diplomacy. At stake, Leffler explains, was domination of European and Asian resources: The US had its incomparable economy, a highly visible standard of living, and a State Department not yet hobbled by willful chief executives; the Soviet Union had an ideology that could ``capitalize on social dislocation and take advantage of nascent nationalism in the third world.'' The feisty Truman emerges here as unprepared to formulate serious foreign policy, with his subordinates often at odds; and despite jingoistic political fulminations and the progressive eroding of security, Leffler says, there really wasn't much fear at the top of a hot war between the US and the Soviets. Rather, the heart of the matter was the US- financed revival of free European and Asian economies. Khrushchev's famous ``We will bury you'' was a whistling in the dark, Leffler says: the US had already forged its ``configuration of power in the core of Eurasia.'' Indispensable for anyone interested in what really happened during this period, although Leffler's conclusions may be too optimistic. ``Capitalizing on past successes'' seems difficult for a nation that today probably could not capitalize a Marshall Plan, and stability via ``curtailing arms sales that fuel local rivalries'' seems a fond dream for the world's largest exporter of arms. (Fifteen halftones, nine maps—not seen.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8047-1924-1

Page Count: 700

Publisher: Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1991

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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