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This book provided very good foreign policy introduction, as a prelude to my increasing focus on today's foreign policy. It is detailed, showing the competing considerations behind many leaders' decisions, but nicely stops short of being too encyclopedic and abstruse. Major events, laws, leaders and predicaments are clearly depicted. The point of view is, as I prefer, calm and weighing, rather than shrilly polemic. This distance respects the listener's capacity to form opinions. At the close of the book, the narrative zooms more quickly forward to the present, which was helpful to connect narratives to today. I recall many of these events, experienced then on a more naive and emotionally immediate level. The account feels true to my recollections too. I would not call the tone sprightly, quite, perhaps stately.
Containment and building a nuclear arsenal was complicated first by Nixon's and Kissinger's detante, then Carter's partial embrace of human rights in terms of int'l relations. Meanwhile, the world economy left its moorings, with oil price rises in reprisal for America's support of Israel, and Nixon felt compelled to abandon the gold standard and Bretton Woods entirely. All three presidents became weak at home, making foreign policy their best hope for a legacy. While a bit academic at times, this book effectively covers its subject.