Rodman swerves from objective scholarship to partisan cheerleading in this chronicle of the struggle between the US and the Soviet Union for control in the Third World. Rodman served on the National Security Council and in the State Department under presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Bush; he is now an editor of the National Review and a fellow in international studies at Johns Hopkins University. He brings a scholar's eye to the years 191768, describing in dispassionate detail the trends in American and Soviet foreign policy that eventually brought the two superpowers to the battlefields of the Cold War. Rodman describes the tendency of each side to overestimate the abilities and desires of the other. He offers fascinating descriptions of the Soviet struggle to reconcile its support for revolutionary movements in the Third World with classic Marxist-Leninist theory, and of America's ``most profound task'': ``to find the way to reconcile its moral convictions and its strategic responsibilities.'' In describing the years from 1968 on, Rodman is no longer the scholar but the player, and the book becomes a passionate argument for the Kissinger- and Reagan-era policies that Rodman helped formulate. In what became known as the Reagan Doctrine, the US pursued dual tracks of diplomacy and force, negotiating with the Soviets with one hand while fomenting anti-Soviet guerrilla wars with the other. This approach, Rodman insists, turned the tide against communism in the Third World and contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. To make his case, the author offers richly detailed case studies of Third World confrontation points—Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola, Nicaragua—but his biases are obvious. Rodman's arguments are immensely persuasive, but his contempt for critics of the Reagan Doctrine keeps him from adequately addressing the question suggested by the book's title: What is more precious than peace? The answer would have been of interest to the hundreds of thousands who died on the Cold War's proxy battlefields.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 1994

ISBN: 0-684-19427-9

Page Count: 642

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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