The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945–2020

Holt. Sept. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781627790857. $29.99. POL SCI
In this latest work, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Weiner (Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA) writes a fast-paced narrative of U.S.-Russia relations since 1945. The emphasis on “political warfare,” however, is selective; the account unfolds episodically at the outset of the Cold War and broadens to encompass the core of recent relations. There is only passing mention of the Middle East before 9/11 or of Yugoslavia before its collapse. Some insights emerge from recently declassified documents. Weiner explains the persistent policy influence of George F. Kennan. He notes, however, that President Harry Truman, not Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state John Foster Dulles, originated the concept of “rollback” against communist Eastern Europe. Weiner also exposes a little-known, botched effort to overthrow Indonesia’s Sukarno, and sheds the long-lasting effects that NATO membership provided former communist states. The most passionate writing is reserved for criticizing Donald Trump, among the “coarsest public figures in America.” Weiner shows how the Trump administration willfully ignores Vladimir Putin’s mastery of cyber warfare on American domestic politics.
VERDICT Weiner offers a significant contribution to the literature of U.S.-Russia relations with a book that emphasizes the asymmetry of American capacity for political warfare, currently consisting of effective cyber counterespionage. Highly Recommended.
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