Robert Gellately's incisive work could well be titled, "Stalin's Worst Blunder." It is the story of how his rejection of Marshall Plan aid in 1947, both for the Soviet Union and the Eastern European nations falling under its domination, precipitated the Cold War and eventually led to the economic collapse of the Soviet bloc.
It is summer and time to read books. I recall the late editor of the editorial page of The Washington Post, the sainted Meg Greenfield, making fun of the idea of summer books, but I have long filed her quip away as a quip that was quipless. She could read books almost anytime she wanted, but busy people read when they have a special opportunity, and during summer break, I would like to remind them of good books to read. This summer there is an abundance of them.
With President Kennedy permanently glorified for history by a battalion of hagiographers (Arthur M. (Schlesinger Jr., Theodore C. Sorensen and uncountable other droolers) debunkers of his mythology face a serious public-opinion obstacle.
Surely they were two of the more acerbic-tongued men ever to grace American public life - President Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Forget that they were an unlikely pair: Truman, a small-town Missouri boy and a failed haberdasher whose formal education had ended at high school; Acheson, a to-the-manor-born son of an Episcopal bishop, educated at Groton and Yale, a Washington superlawyer before and after public service.
The young CIA was badly organized and the American military was ill-prepared to cope with the maneuvers of Communist forces during the Korean War, according to intelligence documents released six decades after the conflict began.
Memoirs of presidential advisers are often self-indulgent and ponderous literary exercises. The writing is generally mediocre at best and the behind-the-scenes revelations are chosen for their ability to help sell books, rather than their historical significance.