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Christopher CaldwellMann is a dogged seeker after evidence and a judicious sifter of it. His verdict is convincing. Some have painted Reagan as brilliantly bankrupting the Soviets through his "Star Wars" missile-defense proposals, which ignited an arms race Gorbachev could not compete in. Mann doesn't buy it. The lead role belonged to Gorbachev. While Star Wars heightened the economic contradictions of Communism, Mann writes, it "did not persuade Gorbachev to sit passively by in 1989 while the Berlin Wall was torn down." Ending the cold war was a matter neither of just being tough against the Soviets nor of just being trusting. It required a subtle mix of both approaches, and Reagan found that mix.
—The New York Times