A disputation of the widely accepted notion that the cold war's ""origins were as perverse as its ultimate consequences."" While acknowledging that ""American fanaticism prolonged and embittered the cold war,"" Kaiser argues that "". . . the American decision to apply power and resources in Europe and the Near East was a reasonable and perfectly understandable political decision."" The Truman Doctrine -- the first event in the cold war that was more than polemic -- was brought about by Britain's' surrender of her status as a world power. That country's traumatic 1947 fuel crisis created such a domestic emergency that Britain was no longer able to defend its interests in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Soviet expansion was threatening Greece and Turkey, and the two nations were in desperate financial straits. Had the United States not assumed Britain's obligations, Britain would have been forced to ""approach the Soviet government in an effort to work out some arrangement which would have [had] the effect of at least slowing up the Russian advance in the Middle East and elsewhere."" (Kaiser quotes from a State Department report.) The author explores such events as Wallace's dismissal from the Cabinet, the naming of Marshall as Secretary of State, the Iranian dispute, and the influence of Kennan, Clifford, Harriman and others. While the book suffers from stylistic difficulties, its thesis is a judicious, penetrating contribution to a subject that suffers from unbearable wooly-headedness.