SOCIAL SCIENCES

When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War

Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2017. 608p. notes. index. ISBN 9780547423067. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780544931848. BIOG
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Throughout his career—businessman, congressman, UN ambassador, CIA director, vice president under Ronald Reagan—George H.W. Bush (b. 1924) earned a reputation for being "reliable rather than revolutionary" and loyal to a fault, says Engel (director, Ctr. for Presidential History, Southern Methodist Univ.; Into the Desert). Engel maintains that Bush's impressive resume combined with a sturdy temperament made him uniquely qualified to manage the "most internationally complex" presidency since World War II. In his single term, the world watched the fall of the Berlin Wall; the dissolution of the Soviet Union; revolutions in China, Yugoslavia, and Romania; and American forces enter Panama, Somalia, and Kuwait. The author contends that Bush's style of "Hippocratic diplomacy," or striving to do no harm, led the way toward a new world order. Though settled within Bush's administration, the broader narrative is more focused on the geopolitical maneuvering of the era. It will intrigue fans of political history who are also interested in international relations.
VERDICT General readers may struggle to get through the exhaustive political play-by-play, but Engel does justice to his subject and his monumental, if underrated, feats.

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