Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyBeginning in 1982, according to the author, then President Ronald Reagan and his senior advisers mapped out a systematic strategy to hasten the demise of the Soviet Union by attacking its fundamental economic and political weaknesses. In a convincing, startling expose that reads like a spy thriller, Schweizer ( Friendly Spies ) draws on interviews with Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, KGB generals, Politburo members, Reagan advisers and others to show how the Reagan administration used covert operations, hidden diplomacy, military build-up and policy maneuvers to exacerbate the Soviet crisis in natural resources, sow political discord and weaken the Soviet empire. The Reagan strategy, as revealed here, included restricting Soviet access to Western credit and technology, covert financial and logistical support to Poland's Solidarity movement and to the Czech underground, a campaign to slash Soviet hard currency earnings by driving down the price of oil with Saudi cooperation, and substantial covert aid to the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviet invasion. (May)
Library JournalTo exhaust the Soviet economy, the Reagan administration tightened technology export controls, launched SDI, funded Afghan resisters, and induced the Saudis to keep oil prices low. The unfolding of this not-so-secret strategy, in which CIA director William Casey took a leading role, is admiringly recounted by the author of Friendly Spies (Atlantic Monthly, 1993) with ``re-created'' dialogs and homey details of Casey's secret meetings with friendly despots like Pakistan's General Zia and the Saudi royal family. Specifics of the CIA's technology disinformation program and of its relationships with the Vatican, Solidarity, and the Voice of America make interesting reading. Otherwise, there's little new here other than the notion that Casey's maneuvers were key to the demise of the Soviet empire, which, as Schweitzer admits, was already in deep economic trouble by the end of the Carter administration. For general readers with a taste for tabloid history-Robert Decker, Palo Alto, Cal.
Gilbert TaylorMight as well entitle this "Travels with Mr. Mumbles," since it is composed mostly of Schweizer's accounts of the trips of the guttural William Casey, director of the CIA from 1981 though 1987. As the animating spirit behind a host of anti-Soviet initiatives, Casey surreptitiously globetrotted to meet the top spooks of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Israel. A few of his arrangements, such as the hush-hush cooperation with the Vatican to support Poland's Solidarity, have come out in recent news articles, but Schweizer pushes the revelation envelope the furthest yet. Among the numerous new disclosures are the help the officially neutral Swedes gave at odd times, the cover for agents that U.S. corporations have provided, and how fake technologies were passed to KGB agents. Schweizer was granted interviews with Reagan's top national security lieutenants, Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter, and others. Those interviews freshen the text with an elan that emulates the energy the Reaganauts displayed in rolling back the Soviet offensive of the late 1970s. More allusive than definite about the operations, this is, as far as it goes, an accurate, first draft of the secret history. Intelligence people will examine it closely, and so will library patrons.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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