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The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812968468, Paperback)The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s was fraught with turmoil and political peril. That it did not end in disaster was due in no small measure to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, for all his flaws--and, insists former administration insider Strobe Talbott, to Yeltsin's partner in reform, President Bill Clinton. Before Clinton took office in 1992, he imagined that he would devote most of his energies to domestic matters, in keeping with the "It's the economy, stupid" slogan of his campaign war room. But, writes fellow Rhodes Scholar Talbott, his adviser on Russian affairs, "It became apparent that being president meant ... doing the heavy lifting in the management of relations with a giant nation that was reinventing itself and, in doing so, reinventing international politics and requiring us to reinvent American foreign policy." Though the Clinton administration took a few missteps early on, by Talbott's account the president soon rose to the historic occasion, tirelessly helping Yeltsin negotiate the difficult task of democratizing the former Communist power while contending with Yeltsin's troublesome penchant for drink and self-destruction--to say nothing of a committed political resistance on the part of disaffected members of the old guard. That things turned out reasonably well may seem amazing, given some of the incidents Talbott relates. His book offers an instructive, lively view of international diplomacy, personal politics, and the odd turns involved in changing the world. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:04 -0400)
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