In this colorful and richly detailed account, journalist Weiner (One Man Against the World) charts 75 years of Russia-U.S. antagonisms, beginning at the end of WWII and culminating with present-day Kremlin stratagems to “subvert the United States, undermine its power, poison its political discourse.” Weiner credits American diplomat George F. Kennan with recognizing Joseph Stalin’s imperialistic intentions after WWII, and details Cold War clashes in Cuba, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Afghanistan. Weiner also profiles CIA agent Larry Devlin, who resisted an order to assassinate recently ousted Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba with poison toothpaste in 1960, and describes U.S. influence campaigns behind the Iron Curtain, including Voice of America radio broadcasts and support for the pro-democracy Solidarity movement in 1980s Poland. Meanwhile, Weiner writes, Kremlin leaders capitalized on the Iran-contra affair to spread disinformation in the U.S., including rumors that the Pentagon originally developed AIDS as a bioweapon. Motivated by Cold War hard feelings and emboldened by new technologies, Russian leader Vladimir Putin (Stalin’s “true heir,” according to Weiner) “plung democracy into danger” by helping elect Donald Trump. Weiner briskly relates a treasure trove of declassified material from the Cold War and draws on insider accounts to present a plausible portrait of the current state of affairs. Newshounds and espionage fans will be enthralled. (June)
"The Folly and the Glory is a riveting spy thriller made all the more chilling because thanks to Tim Weiner's meticulous reporting, it is all true. Anyone trying to understand the current tensions between the U.S. and Russia over election interference and much else needs to read this fascinating history." Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
“A well-written and provocative journey to this era’s perilous fight…And Weiner is especially adept at unearthing and explaining the covert side of it all….as a summation, The Folly and the Glory is brilliant.” The Washington Post
"Fascinating, disturbing, important." Francine Prose
“A sweeping, lively survey of the worldwide competition between the Soviet Union (and later, Russia) and the United States since the end of World War II. Weiner has, in abundance, the knowledge and experience required to write such a book… [he] skillfully shows that subversion, the dissemination of disinformation and military interventions were standard fare in the competition between Moscow and Washington, and he enlivens his story with vivid portraits of the main characters…informative and entertaining.” The New York Times Book Review
“[A] colorful and richly detailed account…Weiner briskly relates a treasure trove of declassified material from the Cold War and draws on insider accounts to present a plausible portrait of the current state of affairs. Newshounds and espionage fans will be enthralled.” Publishers Weekly
“In this fraught, globally consequential 2020 campaign season, one could hardly ask for a better explanation of how we landed here.” Booklist, *starred review*
“The Folly and the Glory is a wake-up call to the nation about the threat from Russia. This book details the seventy-five-year battle between the United States and Russiathe success and the failures. As a former Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense, I can attest to the reality of the political warfare. The most sobering conclusion is that we may be in danger of losing that war.” Leon E. Panetta, chairman of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy and former Secretary of Defense
"Gripping...unnervingly insightful." Kirkus Reviews, *starred review*
“How has Russia gained the upper hand in the decades-long political warfare between our two countries? The Folly and the Glory deals with that terrifying question, perhaps the most important national security issue facing the United States. Tim Weiner has unique insights about this struggle, achieved through thirty-five years of reporting and writing.” the Honorable William Perry, former Secretary of Defense
"Weiner makes a riveting if bleak argument that the United States mishandled the collapse of Soviet-style communism, and now we’re reaping the consequences." HistoryNet
"In its shadowy, often shocking, political warfare against the Soviet Union, America was often one step behind. Now it is losing ground to Russia. American democracy is teetering on the precipice and The Folly and the Glory is critical to understanding how Putin and his political warriors have brought us to the brink." Asha Rangappa, Yale University's Jackson Institute for Public Affairs and former FBI special agent
"With wit, wisdom, and passion, Tim Weiner, a brilliant investigative historian, chronicles the wild and unsettling tale of the covert political warfare that has transpired between the United States and Russia during and after the Cold Wara clandestine clash that Moscow ultimately won with its successful attack on the 2016 election. The Folly and the Glory is a gripping and alarming page-turner revealing harrowing stories of skulduggery, subterfuge, and maliceand a clear and compelling warning that American democracy is threatened by enemies abroad and their witting and unwitting allies at home."
David Corn, co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
“Tim Weiner, our most intrepid historian of national security’s dark secrets, pulls off another triumph with The Folly and the Glory, a fast-paced and revelatory chronicle showing that the Kremlin’s campaign to subvert American democracy is but the latest chapter in a struggle that began with the Cold Warand the blowback to the type of ‘political warfare’ that the U.S. invented.” Fred Kaplan, author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War and Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War
“There is no bigger or more consequential modern history than this. Writing with his inimitable fierce, forceful urgency, Tim Weiner traces the eye-opening and astounding story of 75 years of shadow conflict between the US and Russia, from murder plots in the jungles of Congo to jazz in Poland to the Democratic Party's servers in 2016. This book will stand alongside works like Evan Thomas and Walter Issacson's The Wise Men and Robert Gates' From The Shadows as the essential histories of the Cold War, a war that as Weiner outlines, never really ended in Russia's eyes." Garrett M. Graff, author of the New York Times bestseller The Only Plane in the Sky
In this latest work, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Weiner (Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA) writes a fast-paced narrative of U.S.-Russia relations since 1945. The emphasis on "political warfare," however, is selective; the account unfolds episodically at the outset of the Cold War and broadens to encompass the core of recent relations. There is only passing mention of the Middle East before 9/11 or of Yugoslavia before its collapse. Some insights emerge from recently declassified documents. Weiner explains the persistent policy influence of George F. Kennan. He notes, however, that President Harry Truman, not Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of state John Foster Dulles, originated the concept of "rollback" against communist Eastern Europe. Weiner also exposes a little-known, botched effort to overthrow Indonesia's Sukarno, and sheds the long-lasting effects that NATO membership provided former communist states. The most passionate writing is reserved for criticizing Donald Trump, among the "coarsest public figures in America." Weiner shows how the Trump administration willfully ignores Vladimir Putin's mastery of cyber warfare on American domestic politics. VERDICT Weiner offers a significant contribution to the literature of U.S.-Russia relations with a book that emphasizes the asymmetry of American capacity for political warfare, currently consisting of effective cyber counterespionage. Highly Recommended.—Zachary Irwin, formerly with Penn State Behrend
Under Putin no less than Stalin, Russia represents America’s greatest threat, according to this unnervingly insightful history by the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian.
After 1945, unwilling to risk nuclear Armageddon, the U.S. and Soviet Union confined themselves to political warfare, meaning, as George Kennan wrote, “employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.” This is not the same as nonviolence. As illustrated in Weiner’s National Book Award–winning history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes (2007), America’s first decades after the war featured elaborate, covert military actions, most of which flopped. After the news got out in the 1970s, the CIA dialed them back, but it was always true that CIA money and propaganda achieved far more than dirty tricks. To this point, the author’s account breaks little new ground; not so after the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Weiner’s uncomfortably convincing opinion is that the U.S. screwed up royally, rubbing Russia’s nose in their failures and proclaiming that democracy had demonstrated its superiority. Aware that expanding NATO to the east would infuriate Russia’s new leaders, in 1990, Secretary of State James Baker promised never to do so—and then broke that promise. Ironically, Stalin’s paranoid vision of the West conspiring to surround his nation with enemies became true. Putin took power in 2000 with the aim of making Russian great again. Unable to match America’s massive military, he created an immense intelligence and cyberwarfare establishment that, after flexing its muscles by crippling nearby nations, has concentrated on the U.S. Weiner then delivers a dismaying account of the avalanche of hacking, disinformation, and social media manipulation that began in 2014 with the object of sowing dissention. The author astutely observes that this strategy involves keeping Trump in office, and there’s no doubt of Trump’s fervent and frightening subservience to the Russian leader.
A gripping history of 75 years of Russian-American conflict with the dismal conclusion that we seem outmatched.