Arbel, David, and Ran Edelist. Western Intelligence and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1980-1990: Ten Years that Did Not Shake the World. London: Frank Cass, 2003.
Jervis, IJI&C 18.1 (Spring 2005), says that this "book will not be taken seriously by scholarly researchers on the Cold war era.... [T]he book is littered with errors, some major.... Although it has a few good stories, the narrative is confused and will make no sense to the uninformed."
Bearden, Milt, and James Risen. The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB. New York: Random House, 2003.
Clark comment: The authorship of this work rests with a 30-year CIA veteran whose assignments including running CIA operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Soviet operations in the 1990s (Bearden) and a New York Times reporter who covers intelligence matters (Risen).
Finding this "a most interesting and very readable account of the conflict waged between the intelligence agencies of the two powers," Friedman, CIRA Newsletter 28.3, concludes that the story "is guaranteed to hold the reader's attention." Similarly, Peake, Studies 48.4 (2004), states flatly that "[t]his is a splendid book by any measure."
Prados, Washington Post, 27 Aug. 2003, notes that Bearden's book "vividly demonstrates" that "his Cold War résumé covers the full gamut of clandestine operations.... Bearden provides a lively picture of how the officers at CIA headquarters reacted to the world of Soviet intelligence." One of the book's weaknesses that it "is preoccupied with its story and short on analysis or introspection.... In addition, Bearden is completely silent on some matters.... Yet these are small gaps in an arresting, large-canvas history." This "is a first-rate account from the front lines of the Cold War."
For Stein, NYTBR, 27 Jul. 2003, "[i]f there's a more revealing account of spies at work, it's classified." However, "[t]he revelations of 'The Main Enemy' are more in the details than the substance.... But the book unveils in astonishing detail a number of C.I.A. operations unreported or only rumored until now." Drew, New York Times, 4 May 2003, focuses on the book's assertion that "four of more than a dozen Russians caught spying for the West in the mid-1980's could not have been betrayed" by Ames, Hanssen, and Howard. This leads to a conclusion that there is "an as yet unidentified traitor" within the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Beschloss, Michael R., and Strobe Talbott. At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.
Surveillant 3.1 notes that the authors "received cooperation of American and Soviet officials 'at the highest levels.'" This is "judgmental not descriptive history.... [It] closely examines the personal relationships developed among the leaders and their staffs." There are "no endnotes.... [A]ll source material is 'under time seal.'" Therefore, we "must accept their word," a situation that "comes closer to arrogant Woodwardian journalism than history."
CIRA Newsletter 18.2 cites Studies in Intelligence for the opinion that At the Highest Levels is "utterly fascinating reading for scholars and history buffs." The authors are an "exceptionally able team" and they deliver a "fast-paced volume of access-journalism-at-the-top." They "suggest that Bush and Baker fumbled at the critical time." Although it "shows signs of obviously hasty preparation and editing," this book is "correctly described as an insider's account and a stunning achievement."
For Hoffmann, WPNWE, 8-14 Mar. 1993, the work is "utterly fascinating ... because it tells, with a minimum of editorializing...[,] the grand story of a close and difficult relationship, between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.... The book's only flaw is its concentration on the superpowers. They were not the only players in that period."
Bush, George, and Brent Scowcroft. A World Transformed. New York: Knopf, 1998.
Clark comment: This book presents the joint memoirs of President Bush and Scowcroft, his national security adviser, of the seminal event of the late 1980s and early 1990s -- the end of the Cold War. Their telling of the story serves to remind us of the basic decency of the two individuals, but we are also reminded just how well the United States was served by having a leader of Bush's perspective at its helm during these critical years.
For Howard, FA 77.6, the dual structure of the narrative "gives the work a freshness that makes it readable as well as authoritative. In short, it is a good buy, both for scholars and the general public."
Fischer, Benjamin B., ed. At Cold War's End: U.S. Intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, 1989-1991. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1999.
Clark comment: This volume was released for the18-20 November 1999 conference at Texas A&M University's Bush School of Government and Public Service. Also listed under U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Ed., Benjamin B. Fischer. At Cold War's End (1999). Jonkers, AFIO WIN 2-00 (14 Jan. 2000), says that Fischer has written "a masterly Foreword that is worth the price of admission. It is an outstanding summary[,] capturing a set of momentous and convoluted -- almost unexplainable -- events. This is a basic source document -- a contribution to knowledge.... Highly recommended."
For Mapother, IJI&C 14.4, this collection "presents insight as to how the intelligence community kept the White House and upper levels of the national security bureaucracy on notice that strategic changes were coming, and offered reasonable predictions about what directions they would take." Crome, JIH 1.1, comments that Fischer's "preface is an utmost helpful guide through the documents and at the same time a well written and concise account of U.S. policy toward the the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe."
Gaddis, John Lewis. The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations, Provocations. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 1994. [pb]
Clark comment: See especially Chapter 5, "Intelligence, Espionage, and Cold War History," although there are numerous references to intelligence elsewhere in the text.
Brumberg, WPNWE 18-24 May 1992, praises Gaddis for his "engaging style,... impressive range of knowledge, and ... way of getting after the truth." Nevertheless, he tends "to gloss over some unsavory U.S. policies and to underestimate the internal causes of the Soviet downfall." For the Choice, Nov. 1992, reviewer, this book of 11 essays is "[w]ell-written, intelligently argued, and heavily documented. [Gaddis] offers significant new interpretations of the American style in foreign policy, the objectives of containment, and the roles of morality, nuclear weapons, intelligence, and espionage in Washington's conduct of the Cold War."
Garthoff, Raymond L. The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War. Washington, DC: Brookings, 1994.
Friendly, Washington Monthly, Sep. 1994, says that Garthoff has piled up "a tower of evidence for the view of Mikhail Gorbachov as the catalyst and inspired conductor of this century's grandest peaceful realignment." Whatever future analysts may think of his conclusions, "they will surely bless Garthoff for the thorough scholarship" of his work. "The Great Transition and its predecessor volume, Detente and Confrontation (1985),... are authoritative contemporary history."
A Choice, Jan. 1995, reviewer suggests that Garthoff has produced "a massive, scholarly, and solidly documented volume built on a lifetime of experience and study." This may be "the authoritative record of US Soviet relations in the 1980s, and of the convulsions that put an end to the Cold War."
Palmer, Proceedings 121.1 (Jan. 1995), notes Garthoff's argument that "U.S. rhetoric and policies during the early Reagan years ... had more to do with domestic politics than actually checking or bringing down the Soviet Union." The author "states clearly the precedence of the economic over the diplomatic in Gorbachev's policies; however, he gives very little attention to such matters."
In another vein, Richard Pipes, "Misinterpreting the Cold War: The Hard-Liners Had It Right," Foreign Affairs 74, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1995), 154-160, argues that The Great Transition is "meant to justify the soft line ... [and] is likely to acquire the status of a primer for adherents of this approach." It is an "apologetic treatment of Soviet Cold War policies.... [It] treats all internal dissent in communist countries as a sideshow.... The fundamental weakness ... is his failure to account for the emergence of a Soviet soft-liner in the midst of the most hard-line of all American administrations."
Gates, Robert M. From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
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