The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953

Overview

Provocative, illuminating, and based on a lifetime of research, The Lost Peace is a penetrating look at the misjudgments that caused enormous strife and suffering during a most critical period in history: from the closing months of World War II through the early years of the Cold War. The men who led the world?principally Churchill, Stalin, de Gaulle, Mao, Truman, Syngman Rhee, and Kim Il Sung?executed astonishingly unwise actions that propelled the nuclear arms race. The decisions of these great men, for better ...

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The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953

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Overview

Provocative, illuminating, and based on a lifetime of research, The Lost Peace is a penetrating look at the misjudgments that caused enormous strife and suffering during a most critical period in history: from the closing months of World War II through the early years of the Cold War. The men who led the world—principally Churchill, Stalin, de Gaulle, Mao, Truman, Syngman Rhee, and Kim Il Sung—executed astonishingly unwise actions that propelled the nuclear arms race. The decisions of these great men, for better and often for worse, had profound consequences for the following decades, influencing relations and conflicts in China, Korea, the Middle East, and elsewhere around the globe.

Robert Dallek’s striking reinterpretation of the postwar years, The Lost Peace is a cautionary tale that considers what might have been done differently to avoid the tumult of the mid-twentieth century and the grave difficulties that plagued strong and weak nations alike in a time of fear, mistrust, and uncertainty.

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Editorial Reviews

Doris Kearns Goodwin
“Robert Dallek brings to this majestic work a profound understanding of history, a deep engagement in foreign policy, and a lifetime of studying leadership. This seminal work deserves widespread attention.”
The New York Times Book Review
“An excellent book.”
Booklist
“Bound to provoke debate, Dallek’s tome should engage the readership for world politics.”
Publishers Weekly
After WWII, the most destructive war in history, everyone yearned for a better world. Veteran historian Dallek (Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power) delivers a shrewd analysis of why world leaders failed to deliver it. Reviewing postwar crises--Soviet occupation of eastern Europe, the creation of Israel, India's independence, France's occupation of Indochina, China's civil war, the Korean War--Dallek sadly concludes that the Allies misread history, eschewing anything that smacked of appeasement, treating opponents, mostly the U.S.S.R., as they should have treated Hitler. Without attempting to rehabilitate Stalin, Dallek asserts that Western leaders managed to push all his paranoid buttons. Notwithstanding their conviction that he aimed to conquer the world, Stalin was no apostle of world revolution but a conventional nationalist obsessed with protecting Russia's borders and maintaining his own power. Despite repeated painful experiences and immense expense, traditional, pugnacious power politics proved irresistible (except, ironically, to WWII's losers, Germany and Japan), Dallek concludes in this perceptive work. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews

A well-reasoned examination of the poor decisions made by post–World War II world leaders.

American historian Dallek (Harry S. Truman, 2008, etc.) frames the narrative around the fatal premise, shared by the best minds of the day, that war was justified in order to create a lasting peace. He considers the decisive, ultimately illusory military decisions of the mid '40s to early '50s, including the fraught meetings of war leaders Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at Tehran and Yalta, which essentially created Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe; Truman's go-ahead to drop two atomic bombs on Japan, which only threatened the paranoid Soviet leader and diverted precious resources needed in rebuilding his country into matching America's atomic power; and the subsequent tit-for-tat played out between the two superpowers in the Persian Gulf, Eastern Europe, Iran, Korea and China. Despite the initial exhaustion instilled by total world war and the sense of "hope for a reformed world" engendered by the establishment of the United Nations and the prospects of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, the United States grew wary of Communist aggression, both Soviet and Chinese, and fearful of the prospect of nuclear attack. Dallek characterizes the prevailing mood through the late '40s as a "triumph of fear." Grandiose speeches by both Stalin and Churchill, each seizing on the epic confrontation between Marxism and capitalism, only fueled the fire. Nixon and Kennedy rode early congressional success on anti-communist platforms, and Truman was reelected largely on his firm stance in containing communism. The Soviet crackdown on Czechoslovakia and Berlin blockade, espionage rings and McCarthyism, the Korean War, French rule in Indochina and Ho Chi Minh's victory in Vietnam—all prompted "wretched acts of leadership." Dallek briefly touches on them and many others, providing a cautionary lesson in the mistakes of the past and an attempt to extract a "model of rational behavior" for the future.

A sage scholarly study.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061628672
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 968,282
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Dallek is the author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 and Nixon and Kissinger, among other books. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, and Vanity Fair. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction 1

Part I A Wilderness Called Peace

1 London, Moscow, and Washington: Friends in Need 15

2 From Tehran to Roosevelt's Death 45

3 Collapse and Renewal 68

4 Hope and Despair 107

5 Irrepressible Conflicts? 146

6 The Triumph of Fear 179

Part II State of War

7 Cold War Illusions-and Realities 211

8 War by Other Means 241

9 The Military Solution 271

10 Limited War 301

11 Elusive Peace 333

Epilogue 363

Acknowledgments 371

Notes 373

Bibliography 395

Index 401

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