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A World Transformed: The Collapse of the…

A World Transformed: The Collapse of the Soviet Empire, The Unification of…

by George Bush, Brent Scowcroft

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A World Transformed is a combined memoir of former president George Bush and his national security adviser Brent Scowcroft. It is unusual among presidential memoirs not only in that Bush wrote it with a member of his administration, but that it focuses solely on foreign policy.

Bush and Scowcroft take four events during Bush's presidency and describe how they dealt with those events, both internally and with allies and foes. Those events are the Eastern European revolutions of the late-80s, the question of German unification, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

George Bush was president during one of the most tumultuous periods in modern world history. The U.S.-Soviet competition was one of the primary drivers of international relations in the last half of the twentieth century. While that competition had already started to fade by the time he took office, his memoir shows how he deftly handled the eventual ending of that competition. The ability to empathize with one's opposites in another government is an almost necessary skill to have if a president is going to be successful in his foreign policy. The episodes involving German unification and the possible secession of Lithuania from the Soviet Union show that Bush and Scowcroft had that ability in spades.

A World Transformed is a key resource for anyone interested in understanding the final days of the Cold War. ( )
  Bretzky1 | Jul 4, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Bushprimary authorall editionscalculated
Scowcroft, Brentmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679432485, Hardcover)

George Bush's term as President occurred during a watershed era for international politics. In fact, so many major events took place on his watch that he limits A World Transformed to the years 1989 to 1991, in which the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the Persian Gulf War held center stage. Though some will claim that this narrow focus only confirms Bush's disproportionate interest in foreign rather than domestic affairs, the events in question certainly warrant a book of their own. Perhaps anticipating such a response, Bush hints in the introduction that further memoirs are in the works.

A World Transformed is divided into three voices: Bush, his coauthor and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and the collective "we" of the National Security Council (supplying vital background information and a wider view of the events discussed). Overall, this formula works--Bush's tone is particularly warm and chatty, his narrative peppered with telling anecdotes that reveal the personalities and emotions behind the bold-faced headlines. His remarks are mostly to the point, gratifyingly lucid, and often compelling. Diary excerpts supply many memorable insights, if few truly shocking revelations. For instance, at the end of the Persian Gulf War, he wrote: "Isn't it a marvelous thing that this little country will be liberated.... The big news, of course, is this high performance of our troops--the wonderful job they've done; the conviction that we're right and the others are wrong. We're doing something decent, and we're doing something good; and Vietnam will soon be behind us.... It's surprising how much I dwell on the end of the Vietnam syndrome."

In describing his interaction with other world leaders, Bush emerges as a skillful negotiator and statesman, fostering a personal, first-name-basis style of diplomacy that proved especially effective with Mikhail Gorbachev and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Scowcroft, the consummate support man and workaholic, focuses more on the nuts and bolts, balancing out their presentation of how crises are dealt with at the highest level. --Shawn Carkonen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:11 -0400)

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