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Summits: Six Meetings That Shaped the Twentieth Century [NOOK Book]

Overview


The Cold War dominated world history for nearly half a century, locking two superpowers in a global rivalry that only ended with the Soviet collapse. The most decisive moments of twentieth-century diplomacy occurred when world leaders met face to face—from the mishandled summit in Munich, 1938, which brought on the Second World War, to Ronald Reagan’s remarkable chemistry with Mikhail Gorbachev at Geneva in 1985. In Summits, eminent diplomatic historian David Reynolds takes us alongside the statesmen who stood, ...
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Summits: Six Meetings That Shaped the Twentieth Century

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Overview


The Cold War dominated world history for nearly half a century, locking two superpowers in a global rivalry that only ended with the Soviet collapse. The most decisive moments of twentieth-century diplomacy occurred when world leaders met face to face—from the mishandled summit in Munich, 1938, which brought on the Second World War, to Ronald Reagan’s remarkable chemistry with Mikhail Gorbachev at Geneva in 1985. In Summits, eminent diplomatic historian David Reynolds takes us alongside the statesmen who stood, if only briefly, on top of the world, offering valuable lessons as we find ourselves confronting once again a war without end.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

John F. Kennedy opined that nations in conflict would do better to "meet at the summit than at the brink." Reynolds had the intriguing idea of examining the conflicts of the 20th century through the lens of its pivotal summit meetings. Given his Cambridge professorship and eight books on WWII and the Cold War (Command of History), the author's thorough mastery of his subject is reflected in the fluency and assurance of the writing. As he explains, many summits have been vitiated by misplaced trust: at Munich in 1938, Chamberlain believed Hitler would keep his word on Czechoslovakia. In Reynolds's view, Kennedy and Khrushchev failed at Vienna in 1961 in nearly all respects, and their failure had consequences, including Khrushchev's belligerence-and ultimate humiliation-in the Cuban missile crisis. In 1985, Reagan and Gorbachev held what the author believes was the most successful summit of all, a result of careful preparation and the old-fashioned, behind-the-scenes diplomacy of George Shultz. The Camp David summit with Sadat, Carter and Begin, in this account, rivals Munich for sheer drama. The stories of these summits (plus the post-WWII Yalta conference and Nixon/Brezhnev in 1972) reveal the calculation, bluff, mutual incomprehension and good intentions that make meetings at the top risky and, occasionally, productive. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Reynolds (international history, Cambridge Univ.) chooses to use the summits between world leaders as hooks for his take on 20th-century history. He is treading the same ground covered in Jonathan Fenby's recent Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin & Churchill Won One War & Began Another.Reynolds's angle is to concentrate on the essential facets of summitry: the face-to-face meeting and the give-and-take among world leaders. He examines at great length the summits that took place during World War II among Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt. Other summits he covers are among Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Pope Gregory VII; between Kennedy and Khrushchev; and between George W. Bush and Tony Blair. He provides detailed information, drawing in part from newly opened Soviet archives, to give readers historical context, explaining the events surrounding each summit and the dynamics of each conference. A fascinating look at historical events through this particular lens, his book is recommended for academic and public libraries.
—Harry Willems

Kirkus Reviews
Lucid, authoritative account of big-power diplomatic parleys from Munich to Camp David. World leaders met mano a mano for many centuries before the 20th, notes Reynolds (International History/Cambridge Univ.; In Command of History, 2005, etc.). In 1520, Henry VIII of England and Francois I of France gathered with their retinues on the outskirts of Calais for two weeks of jousting, feasting and dancing. In 1807, Napoleon and Czar Alexander I gabbed on a ceremonial raft on the Niemen River, at their shared border. But summits became more possible, urgent and significant with the rise of air travel, weapons of mass destruction and, somewhat later, television. The first truly modern summit, held at Munich in 1938, branded in public memory the image of Britain's Neville Chamberlain, umbrella in hand, predicting "peace for our time" after talks with Hitler. Winston Churchill coined the term "summit" to describe such meetings in 1950, when climbing to the peak of Mt. Everest was all the rage. Reynolds draws on transcripts to recreate six notable meetings. Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin brought false assumptions to 1945 talks at Yalta about Germany's future while sleeping among bedbugs in the Livadia Palace. John F. Kennedy's "disastrous" 1961 Vienna summit with Nikita Khrushchev seeded the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam quagmire. At the 1972 Moscow talks on missile accords, Leonid Brezhnev tried to unsettle Richard Nixon by playing with a toy cannon. Reynolds offers revealing insights into the quirks and negotiating skills of leaders, finding Menachem Begin the savviest in 1978 sessions with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat at Camp David, and Ronald Reagan well-preparedafter reading 24 briefing papers while en route to his successful 1985 talks in Geneva with Mikhail Gorbachev. Bound to please both specialists and general readers.
From the Publisher

Wall Street Journal
“Only one chapter in Summits is about Yalta…but so astute is David Reynolds’s analysis of the proceedings that it’s worth getting hold of this book just for that section.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786744589
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 576
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author


David Reynolds is a professor of international history at Cambridge University. He is the author of eight books, including In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (2004), which was awarded the Wolfson Prize, Britain’s highest honor for the writing of history, and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Cambridge, England.
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