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The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of…

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War

by James Mann

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This is not a balanced book. It appear to me that the journalist/author is just another of Reagan's many liberal detractors with an agenda.. I am grateful that the United States during these most critical times had a president of Reagan's stature. His refusal to bargan away our Strategic Defence Initiative at Geneva and Reykjavic was indicative of his character and was an act that greatly hastened the "fall of an evil empire".Good for Reagan. I have nothing but contempt for his many pusillanimous liberal detractors, including this journalist /author with an agenda. They grow on trees.
  sanjuanslim | Jan 5, 2011 |
What Reagan Knew that Everyone Else Didn't

While arguing for a more nuanced interpretation of both Ronald Reagan the President and his role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, James Mann attempts to show that while Reagan was not the central figure in ending the Cold War but allowed Gorbachev the political space to reform the Soviet system.

The so-called "rebellion" wasn't so much as stated but more like a deviation from the anti-communist right who saw Gorbachev as just another iron-fisted Soviet ruler intent on crushing the capitalist west. Reagan started out from the same stance, but steadily moved to a middle position. Mann seems to put a large emphasis on the role of Suzanne Massie for Reagan's shift on Soviet policy but a more likely explanation was the many tete-a-tete meetings the Reagans had with the Gorbachevs.

One point that would seem to contradict Mann's central argument was the "tear down this wall" speech, of which Mann spends a great deal of time explaining. First off, Gorbachev's reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika had been initiated before Reagan's Berlin speech, therefore any linkage between the 2 does not fit the chronology. Second, the speech was mostly received by the Soviet bloc as a provocation, a dare, if so, how does this advance Mann's thesis that Reagan allowed for political deference to Gorbachev?

Mann generally does a good job covering the many summits between the two leaders and the discussions over arms reduction and missile-defense, the so-called Star Wars program (SDI). However, Mann fails to mention 2 points. The desire to reduce medium-range missiles was due to the fact that they were no long tactically necessary. With the advent of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the U.S. could launch missiles from the continental U.S. and reach Russia, and vice-versa. Thus, the primary reason the war hawks were so intent on keeping the medium-range missiles was to protect the military-industrial-complex and maintain the defense budget -- any reduction would mean decreased production and therefore decreased profits for defense corporations -- and not because of any ideological anti-communist bent. The reason why Gorbachev and the USSR were so adamant on halting SDI was because it would prevent second-strike retaliation capability, fundamentally altering the balance of power to the U.S., a minor or major point (depending on how you look at it) that Mann neglects to mention.

And while you may ultimately find that Mann is unable to provide sufficient evidence to indicate exactly how much effect Reagan's political accommodation had if any, Reagan's role in ending the Cold War is best summed up by simply stating that: Reagan empathized with Gorbachev, due to the privileged information about Gorbachev's humanism gained through their several intimate meetings of which the political punditry the likes of Nixon, Kissinger, and George Will were never privy to.

Overall, this is a good book explaining from the American perspective how Reagan's foreign policy was implemented in the final crucial years leading up to the end of the cold war. And while Mann's interpretation does not disclose anything new, his presentation of the facts are clear and concise and can only add to our understanding of one of the most momentous moments in the history of the world. ( )
  bruchu | Jul 30, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670020540, Hardcover)

In "The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan", "New York Times" bestselling author James Mann directs his keen analysis to Ronald Reagan's role in ending the Cold War. Drawing on new interviews and previously unavailable documents, Mann offers a fresh and compelling narrative - a new history assessing what Reagan did, and did not do, to help bring America's four-decade conflict with the Soviet Union to a close. As he did so masterfully in "Rise of the Vulcans", Mann sheds new light on the hidden aspects of American foreign policy. He reveals previously undisclosed secret messages between Reagan and Moscow; internal White House intrigues; and battles with leading figures such as Nixon and Kissinger, who repeatedly questioned Reagan's unfolding diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev. He details the background and fierce debate over Reagan's famous Berlin Wall speech and shows how it fitted into Reagan's policies. This book finally answers the troubling questions about Reagan's actual role in the crumbling of Soviet power; and concludes that by recognising the significance of Gorbachev, Reagan helped bring the Cold War to a close.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

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Drawing on new interviews and previously unavailable documents, Mann finally answers the troubling questions about Reagan's actual role in the crumbling of Soviet power; and concludes that by recognizing the significance of Gorbachev, Reagan helped bring the Cold War to a close.… (more)

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