A brief but thoughtful essay outlining the terrible misapprehensions that led to escalating tensions between the US and the Soviet Union from the close of WW I to the end of the Korean conflict. Although anti-Bolshevik feelings ran high even at the time of the Russian Revolution, fear of the USSR didn't dominate American foreign policy until after WW II. Drawing on materials newly available from Soviet, East European, and Chinese archives, Leffler (winner of the 1993 Bancroft Prize for A Preponderance of Power) deftly traces the history of US-Soviet relations in prÇcis, from the Bolsheviks' rise to power through the uneasy truce in Korea. Begining as an ideological clash, the tension between the two nations only gradually became a power struggle as well. Indeed, it was only when the USSR became a player on the same global scale as the US (albeit considerably weaker in key strategic areas after the pounding it took during WW II) that the Soviets were perceived as an active threat abroad. On the other hand, seen through the distorting mirror of obsessive anti-Communism, domestic American radicals were regarded as a danger almost from the first murmur of the word ``Bolshevik'' in the popular press, and it was the specter of homegrown subversion rather than foreign invasion that haunted American policies for a long time. Leffler retells this often familiar material methodically, using the new documentation to reveal Stalin as hesitant and tentative in foreign policy, primarily concerned with erecting a security buffer around Russia rather than building an evil empire. The portrait that emerges is of two superpowers-in-formation engaged in a grim dialogue of the deaf, with terrible consequences for humanity. Although much of the ground covered is well trod, this is an admirably complete introduction to the history of the Cold War.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8090-8791-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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


“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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