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Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended…

Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (2004)

by Jack F. Matlock

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Jack F. Matlock Jr. was a key member of both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations in their dealings with the Soviet Union. Matlock's first position in the Reagan administration was as ambassador to Czechoslovakia, but, in late-1983, he moved to Washington and became a special assistant to the president and senior director of European and Soviet affairs, the principal position on the National Security Council staff dealing with the Soviet Union. In April 1987, Matlock was made ambassador to the Soviet Union, a position he held until August 1991. As such, Matlock had a hand in or was at least directly aware of the key moments of the last years of the Cold War and the decisions that were made in the White House about how to deal with the Soviet Union. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended is a part-memoir, part-history of that time and of how Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, along with select key advisers on both sides, moved the United States and Soviet Union from a relationship of nuclear-armed hostility to one of trust and normal relations.

While the book necessarily deals more with the happenings and opinions of the US side of the relationship, Matlock does incorporate much information from the Soviet archives and from interviews that he conducted with key Soviet participants to piece together the corresponding Soviet part of the story. So we get a very good idea of the thinking of the leadership in both countries about what they wanted from the other, what they thought of the other's leaders, and what motivated them to do what they did.

The story that Matlock tells about this relationship is largely one of a situation when the right people came along at the right time to bring a halt to the most dangerous international relationship the world has ever seen: the decades-long, smoldering hostility that existed between two countries with nuclear arsenals large enough to destroy the world many times over. What Matlock describes is a situation in which two men motivated by somewhat different things were able to channel those motivations into the same goal: ending the Cold War. ( )
  Bretzky1 | Aug 2, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679463232, Hardcover)

In Reagan and Gorbachev, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., gives an eyewitness account of how the Cold War ended, with humankind declared the winner. As Reagan’s principal adviser on Soviet and European affairs, and later as the U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R., Matlock lived history: He was the point person for Reagan’s evolving policy of conciliation toward the Soviet Union. Working from his own papers, recent interviews with major figures, and archival sources both here and abroad, Matlock offers an insider’s perspective on a diplomatic campaign far more sophisticated than previously thought, led by two men of surpassing vision.
Matlock details how, from the start of his term, Reagan privately pursued improved U.S.—U.S.S.R. relations, while rebuilding America’s military and fighting will in order to confront the Soviet Union while providing bargaining chips. When Gorbachev assumed leadership, however, Reagan and his advisers found a potential partner in the enterprise of peace. At first the two leaders sparred, agreeing on little. Gradually a form of trust emerged, with Gorbachev taking politically risky steps that bore long-term benefits, like the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the U.S.S.R.’s significant unilateral troop reductions in 1988.

Through his recollections and unparalleled access to the best and latest sources, Matlock describes Reagan’s and Gorbachev’s initial views of each other. We learn how the two prepared for their meetings; we discover that Reagan occasionally wrote to Gorbachev in his own hand, both to personalize the correspondence and to prevent nit-picking by hard-liners in his administration. We also see how the two men were pushed closer together by the unlikeliest characters (Senator Ted Kennedy and François Mitterrand among them) and by the two leaders’ remarkable foreign ministers, George Shultz and Eduard Shevardnadze.

The end of the Cold War is a key event in modern history, one that demanded bold individuals and decisive action. Both epic and intimate, Reagan and Gorbachev will be the standard reference, a work that is critical to our understanding of the present and the past.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

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Describes Ronald Reagan's policies towards the Soviet Union, the summit meetings between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and how the two leaders reached agreements on missile and troop reductions that eventually led to the end of the cold war.… (more)

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