Summary and book reviews of War In A Time Of Peace by David Halberstam

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
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2001, 543 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2002, 560 pages

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Book Summary

Describes in fascinating human detail how the shadow of the Cold War still hangs over American foreign policy and how domestic politics have determined our role as a world power.

In this long-awaited successor to his #1 national bestseller The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam describes in fascinating human detail how the shadow of the Cold War still hangs over American foreign policy and how domestic politics have determined our role as a world power.

More than twenty-five years ago Halberstam told the riveting story of the men who conceived and executed the Vietnam War. Today the Pulitzer Prize- winning author has written another unforgettable chronicle of Washington politics, this time exploring the complex dynamics of foreign policy in post-Cold War America.

Halberstam brilliantly evokes the internecine conflicts, the untrammeled egos, and the struggles for dominance among the key figures in the White House, the State Department, and the military. He shows how the decisions of men who served in the Vietnam War -- such as General Colin Powell and presidential advisers Richard Holbrooke and Anthony Lake -- and those who did not have shaped American politics and policy makers (perhaps most notably, President Clinton's placing, for the first time in fifty years, domestic issues over foreign policy).

With his uncanny ability to find the real story behind the headlines, Halberstam shows how current events in the Balkans, Somalia, and Haiti reflect American politics and foreign policy. He discusses the repercussions in Washington on policy makers from two different administrations; the wariness of the American military to become caught again in an inconclusive ground war; the frustrations of civilian advisers, most of whom have never served in the military; and the effects these conflicting forces have on the American commander in Kosovo, General Wes Clark.

Sweeping in its scope and impressive in its depth, War in a Time of Peace provides fascinating portraits of Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Kissinger, James Baker, Dick Cheney, Madeleine Albright, and others, to reveal a stunning view of modern political America.

Chapter One

For a brief, glorious, almost Olympian moment it appeared that the presidency itself could serve as the campaign. Rarely had an American president seemed so sure of reelection. In the summer and fall of 1991, George Bush appeared to be politically invincible. His personal approval ratings in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War had reached 90 percent, unheard of for any sitting president, and even more remarkable for someone like Bush, a competent political insider whose charisma and capacity to inspire had in the past escaped most of his fellow citizens. Of his essential decency and competence there had been little doubt, and the skill with which he had presided over the end of the Cold War had impressed not merely the inner club that monitored foreign policy decision-making, but much of the country as well. With exceptional sensitivity, he had juggled and balanced his own political needs with the greater political needs of his newest partner in this joint endeavor, ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jane Perlez
A sprawling tapestry of exquisite bottom-up reporting and powerful vignettes.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Harry Levins
Big in scope, important in its subject, fascinating in its tale-telling.

The Wall Street Journal - John Lehman
A riveting and merciless tale...In a certain sense, the book is another installment of The Best and The Brightest.

The San Francisco Chronicle - Louis Freedberg
This important story is a journalistic tour de force, based on interviews with almost every major player.

The Washington Post - Mark Bowden
Halberstam has become one of the great synthesizers of modern American history. He writes sweeping, smart books on big topics.

BookPage - Alan Prince
A work that adds to the legendary status of David Halberstam as an author and historian.

Booklist - Mary Carroll
Vintage Halberstam, clarifying the hows and whys of foreign policy over the past decade.

Publishers Weekly
Events and personalities clash in this extraordinary sequel to Halberstam's classic examination of America's road to Vietnam, The Best and the Brightest .... This is vintage Halberstam, combining sharp portraits of the political players Bush, Clinton, Powell, Madeleine Albright, and so many others with nuanced reportage of the events they shape and are shaped by.

Author Blurb Leslie H. Gelb, president, Council on Foreign Relations
Halberstam's most important book, more ambitious and revealing than The Best and the Brightest, in what it tells of politics and decision making in America during the nineties. Just as Vietnam was the test case for our elders, the Balkans and other tragic conflicts became the proving ground for the Bush and Clinton administrations. What Halberstam has written is nothing less than a War and Peace for our generation.

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