Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

Excerpt from War In A Time Of Peace by David Halberstam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

War In A Time Of Peace

Bush, Clinton & The Generals

by David Halberstam

War In A Time Of Peace by David Halberstam X
War In A Time Of Peace by David Halberstam
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2001, 543 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2002, 560 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


So, much to the disappointment of many on the right, Bush was anxious to minimize the event as a symbolic occasion. It was against his nature. Taking personal credit for any kind of larger success, not all of which was his, conflicted with the way he had been brought up. He believed -- an attitude that was surely old-fashioned and quite optimistic in an age of ever more carefully orchestrated political spin, when the sizzle was more important than the steak -- that if you did the right things in the right way, people would know about it. You should never call attention to yourself or, worse, advertise your accomplishments. Besides, Bush put a primacy on personal relationships, and by then he had begun to forge one with Mikhail Gorbachev and was obviously unwilling to do anything that would make things more difficult for his new ally. The more Bush celebrated, the more vulnerable Gorbachev and the other more democratically inclined figures in the Soviet Union were likely to be. Celebrating was like gloating and Bush would not gloat. (A few months later, getting close to an election campaign, Bush was more emboldened, and when he delivered his January 1992 State of the Union speech, with an election year just beginning, he did give the United States credit for winning the Cold War. Gorbachev, by then ousted from power, was not amused and said that the end of the Cold War was "our common victory. We should give credit to all politicians who participated in that victory.")

It was probably just as well that Bush did not try to grab too much credit for the collapse of communism, for what had transpired was a triumphal victory for an idea rather than for any one man or political faction. The Soviet Union had turned out to be, however involuntarily, the perfect advertisement for the free society, suggesting in the end that harsh, authoritarian controls and systems did not merely limit political, intellectual, and spiritual freedom, but economic freedom and military development as well. They limited not just the freedom of the individual, something that many rulers in many parts of the world would gladly accommodate to, but in the end limited the sum strength and might of the state, which was a very different thing. Therefore, what the proponents of an open society had long argued, that freedom was indivisible, and that the freedom to speak openly and candidly about political matters was in the long run inseparable from the freedom to invent some new high-technology device, or to run a brilliant new company, was true. The rights of man included not merely the right to compose and send an angry letter to a newspaper complaining about the government, they included as well as the right to choose where he went to work, and his right to garner, if he so chose and worked hard enough and with enough originality, far greater material rewards than his neighbors. The Soviet system was a devastating argument for what the lack of choice did, and what happened when a society was run top to bottom, instead of bottom to top. When George Bush had taken office, the Soviet system had begun to collapse of its own weight. Clearly by the eighties, Communist rule, as critics had long suggested, had undermined the nation itself, weakening it, particularly in a high-tech age when there was such an immediate and direct connection between the vitality of the domestic economy and a nation's military capacity, and when the gap between American weaponry and that of the Soviets had begun to widen at an ever greater rate.

Symbols had never been Bush's strength, and those who were dissatisfied with his innate caution liked to imagine what Ronald Reagan -- who was always so brilliant with symbols and had a God-given sense of when and how to use them -- might have done had he still been president when the wall fell. Possibly he would have ventured to Berlin for some wonderful kind of ceremony that the entire nation, perhaps the entire free world, could have shared. But Reagan was then and Bush was now, and unlike his predecessor (and his successor), Bush tended to downplay ceremonial moments. Many in the right wing who had often found him to be of too little ideological faith were again let down. Once more he had proven himself unworthy, placing success in a delicate and as yet unfinished geopolitical process above the temptation to savor what might have been a glorious historic moment.

Copyright © 2001 by The Amateurs, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    by Briony Cameron
    Our titular heroine's story begins in Yáquimo, Santo Domingo. Jacquotte Delahaye is a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Another Word for Love
    Another Word for Love
    by Carvell Wallace
    "I write about beautiful things because I live in a country that has tried to kill me and every...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson
    Michelle Collins Anderson's novel The Flower Sisters, based in part on a real tragedy that occurred ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Who Said...

A library is thought in cold storage

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.