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

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

by Robert Dallek
     
 

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"Robert Dallek brings to this majestic work a profound understanding of history, a deep engagement in foreign policy, and a lifetime of studying leadership. The story of what went wrong during the postwar period…has never been more intelligently explored." —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Team of Rivals

Robert Dalleck

Overview

"Robert Dallek brings to this majestic work a profound understanding of history, a deep engagement in foreign policy, and a lifetime of studying leadership. The story of what went wrong during the postwar period…has never been more intelligently explored." —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Team of Rivals

Robert Dalleck follows his bestselling Nixon and Kissenger: Partners in Power and An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 with this masterful account of the crucial period that shaped the postwar world. As the Obama Administration struggles to define its strategy for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Dallek's critical and compelling look at Truman, Churchill, Stalin, and other world leaders in the wake of World War II not only offers important historical perspective but provides timely insight on America's course into the future.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061628672
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/15/2011
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
717,434
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

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.”

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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