Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reading Recent History


I just finished the longest book of my life. Actually, it’d more accurate to say I just finished the longest 566 pages of my life. (I’m sure I’m blocking out painful memories of some book read in school.)

A World Transformed by George (H.W.) Bush and Brent Scowcroft. I don’t mean to put off every potential reader -- just those that aren’t seriously into the subject at hand. It’s actually a very good book. It just isn’t very entertaining.

I like reading what I call “recent history” -- history that I somewhat remember. If you remember Tiananmen Square, Solidarity, the falling of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Desert Storm and the collapse of the Soviet Union -- you might like to read it too. I suspect in a few years college students in American History classes will be complaining about the book because they’ll be required to read it.

The unique aspect of this book is the humanizing effect it has upon the principles -- The President of the United States and his National Security Advisor. It is remarkably candid in many, many instances. It’s refreshingly human to see doubt and worry from two men that were obviously well informed and educated. It is also very hopeful to see America successfully navigate a course through such perilous times, in large part due to the efforts of such thoughtful and dedicated men.

The book is amazingly apolitical. President Bush suffered at the hands of his political enemies as all Presidents do but it is only mentioned in passing. An example of his candidness is his admission that he dwelled on foreign policy (as opposed to domestic) in part because he was better at it than domestic policy. As anyone would expect, the book is somewhat self-serving. The virtual absence of Vice-President Dan Quayle sticks out as an example. But overall, I find the book to be fair.

It’s interesting reading, viewed through the lens of the current Administration occupying The White House. Many of today’s players are there; Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Powell, Gates and of course, Baker. The book was first published in 1998, before the son was elected President. If you like the subject, it’s a worthwhile read.

Don Brown
May 30, 2007

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