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On the Brink: The Dramatic Saga of How the Reagan Adminstration Changed the Course of History and Won the Cold War

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On the Brink is a gripping narrative of the Cold War, told through the stories of three men and one woman who changed history during one of the world's most decisive and divisive decades. In an extraordinary journey inside the Reagan era, rich in personal drama, Washington infighting, and international intrigue, Jay Winik not only captures the historic issues but takes us behind the scenes and into the turbulent lives of the daring but all-too-human men and women who dominated the nation's capital and drove the ...
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Overview

On the Brink is a gripping narrative of the Cold War, told through the stories of three men and one woman who changed history during one of the world's most decisive and divisive decades. In an extraordinary journey inside the Reagan era, rich in personal drama, Washington infighting, and international intrigue, Jay Winik not only captures the historic issues but takes us behind the scenes and into the turbulent lives of the daring but all-too-human men and women who dominated the nation's capital and drove the policies of war and peace. Based on exclusive interviews and unparalleled access to key officials and confidential documents, On the Brink reveals, blow by blow, the crucial events and harrowing debates that never reached the headlines: in closed meetings in Washington's marble-floored corridors of power, in Central American jungle encounters and precarious European negotiations, in furious backroom confrontations at the U.N., and in the historic summits between Reagan and Gorbachev. From a tense U.S.-Soviet standoff and hair-raising nuclear missile deployments, guerrilla wars, and secret diplomacy abroad, the action shifts to agonizing in the Kremlin and the most dramatic summit in history, at Hofdi House.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The thesis that President Ronald Reagan's administration, through its embrace of military confrontation and brinksmanship, hastened the breakup of the Soviet Union and decisively won the Cold War for the U.S. receives a fresh twist in Winik's intensely dramatic, personal narrative history. He credits four members of the Reagan team, all renegade Democrats, with translating the President's hard-line policy into effective diplomacy. The four are Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, arms control negotiator, supporter of Star Wars and of the deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe; Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; human rights advocate Max Kampelman; and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Drawing on more than 200 interviews with key participants, private papers, classified documents and memos of conversations, Winik, a professor at the University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs, also provides close-ups of Carter, Mondale, Kissinger, Caspar Weinberger, George Schultz, Paul Nitze and others. His engrossing book is certain to fuel debate. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Longtime Washington insider Winik recounts how a foreign policy "counterestablishment" during the Reagan administration brought about the end of the Cold War and subsequent downfall of the Soviet Union. His story focuses on Richard Perle, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Eliott Abrams, and Max Kamplemen as beleaguered neoconservatives who battled both the Washington foreign policy establishment and international communism. Writing in a dramatic you-are-there style, he re-creates highly charged conversations and blazing bureaucratic infighting in which the true disciples of Ronald Reagan do indeed prevail. Highly readable, this work does contain some great anecdotes, but it takes such a laudatory perspective that it has little value for academic libraries. Peter Rodman tells much the same story with more objectivity in More Precious Than Peace (LJ 11/1/94). For most large public libraries.-James A. Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
Kirkus Reviews
From the subtitle on, Winik (School of Public Affairs/Univ. of Maryland) minces no words about where he stands in this polemical account of the collapse of Communism in Europe.

As Winik tells it, the Cold War was "won" by no fewer than four functionaries of the Reagan administration who, like Reagan himself, were all former Democrats: UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, diplomat and lawyer Max Kampelman, arms control specialist Richard Perle, and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. The author depicts liberal and centrist Democrats, media pundits, and establishment Republicans who opposed these and other intrepid figures of Reagan's "counterestablishment" as the hapless also-rans of history. Winik recounts how the "Reaganauts" crafted an American geopolitics of confrontation at odds with the accommodationist policies of the Nixon-Ford-Carter eras, how they took the US "to the brink" of an uncontrolled arms race and possible nuclear war with the Soviet Union, how they opposed Soviet policy in the Middle East and Central America, how they pioneered an American defensive strategy against nuclear attack, and how they "held the line" against dissenters and doubters until the Soviet Union was compelled to yield on arms issues. In the end, Winik at least oversimplifies by arguing that the Reagan administration won the Cold War: He brushes aside the effects of 44 years of consistently anti-Communist American foreign policy, does not discuss the impact of cultural and technological factors on the decline of Communism, and takes little note of significant internal developments in the Soviet bloc.

However, Winik tells a good story, and those who read on after noting the author's subtitle will get, for better or worse, what they should expect.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684809823
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/10/1996
  • Pages: 672
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.73 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2003

    A Great Read

    Winik is a wonderful writer and he weaves this story magnificently. He proves beyond doubt - to any open minded reader - just how the Reagan administration's prescient policies helped us win the Cold War peacefully. We are indebted to Winik for bringing us this story. I only wish that this book were more readily available.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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