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Another such victory : President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953 /
Arnold A. Offner.
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
description
xv, 626 p., [12] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0804742545
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2002.
isbn
0804742545
catalogue key
4650829
 
Includes bibliographical references (p [569]-588) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Arnold A. Offner is Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History at Lafayette College
Excerpts
Flap Copy
This book is a provocative, forcefully argued, and thoroughly documented reassessment of President Truman's profound influence on U.S. foreign policy and the Cold War. The author contends that throughout his presidency, Truman remained a parochial nationalist who lacked the vision and leadership to move the United States away from conflict and toward d├ętente. Instead, he promoted an ideology and politics of Cold War confrontation that set the pattern for successor administrations. This study sharply challenges the prevailing view of historians who have uncritically praised Truman for repulsing the Soviet Union. Based on exhaustive research and including many documents that have come to light since the end of the Cold War, the book demonstrates how Truman's simplistic analogies, exaggerated beliefs in U.S. supremacy, and limited grasp of world affairs exacerbated conflicts with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. For example, Truman's decision at the Potsdam Conference to engage in "atomic poker" and outmaneuver the Soviets in Europe and Asia led him to brush aside all proposals to forgo the use of atomic bombs on Japan. Truman's insecurity also reinforced his penchant to view conflict in black-and-white terms, to categorize all nations as either free or totalitarian, to demonize his opponents, and to ignore the complexities of historic national conflicts. Truman was unable to view China's civil war apart from the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. Belittling critics of his support for the corrupt Guomindang government, he refused to negotiate with the emergent PRC. Though he did preserve South Korea's independence after North Korea's attack, he blamed the conflict solely on Soviet-inspired aggression, instead of a bitter dispute between two rival regimes. Truman's decision to send troops across the 38th parallel to destroy the North Korean regime, combined with his disdain for PRC security concerns, brought about a tragic wider war. In sum, despite Truman's claim to have "knocked the socks off the communists," he left the White House with his presidency in tatters, military spending at a record high, McCarthyism rampant, and the United States on Cold War footing at home and abroad.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2002-03-01:
According to Offner (Victory in Europe 1945: From World War to Cold War), President Truman's Cold War was a time of unprecedented international tension during which Truman himself fanned the flames by attributing international crises in Germany, Greece, China, and Korea solely to the Soviet Union's unrelenting crusade to create Communist satellites throughout Europe and Asia. This scholarly, admirably researched investigation shows Truman to be a narrow-minded leader whose inadequate understanding of history prevented him from viewing the Soviets' actions as attempts to protect their internal security. Offner acknowledges Truman's towering successes: the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and the decision to keep civilian control over the atomic bomb. Yet his "us vs. them" mentality prevented him from viewing the civil wars in China and Korea as struggles between indigenous factions. Truman's narrow Cold War ideology, Offner argues, set the stage for American incursion into Vietnam 20 years later. Offner's Truman is not the heroic, increasingly confident president portrayed by David McCullough in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Truman. This excellent revisionist account updates Daniel Yergin's seminal Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State (LJ 4/15/77) and is enthusiastically recommended for academic diplomatic history collections. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2002-02-18:
Readers of this cramped assessment of foreign policy during Truman's watch won't learn that the accidental president inherited the Cold War instead, he and his "parochial and nationalistic heritage" apparently bear much of the blame for it. Offner, a professor at Lafayette College, also considers Mao a "populist" despot and deems Stalin obsessed by legitimate national security concerns. Yet after dumping on Truman for his inexperienced, shoot-from-the-hip leadership, Offner reluctantly acknowledges the unprepared president's surprising resolve and capacity. Containment of Soviet ambitions was a "jaundiced" Truman strategy that worked, for example. But in the pre-Cold War chill bequeathed to Truman, even Lend-Lease American aircraft being ferried to Russia in 1941 could not cross into Soviet space with American pilots, a fact the author ignores. And Truman's decisions in Korea, the author argues, would lead his successors to make "extravagant claims of presidential power while leading the nation into conflicts that ultimately diminished the office." Also, Truman's airlift to save West Berlin, his creation of NATO and the economic miracle of the Marshall Plan sowed discord and divided both Germany and Europe in "indefinite stalemate." In scolding Truman for personal diplomacy and for giving in to congressional hawks (as on China), Offner also ignores the constraints that the Republican opposition placed upon him. B&w photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"At a moment in the early 2lst century when the choices in a new crisis seem simply black and white, this is precisely the kind of historical perspective we should have. Professor Offner has reopened a long overdue debate on Harry Trumanboth on the man and his role in the origins of the Cold War. . . . [I]t certainly demands to be read and widely discussed."Walter LaFeber, Cornell University and author of America, Russia and the Cold War
"At a moment in the early 2lst century when the choices in a new crisis seem simply black and white, this is precisely the kind of historical perspective we should have. Professor Offner has reopened a long overdue debate on Harry Truman--both on the man and his role in the origins of the Cold War. . . . [I]t certainly demands to be read and widely discussed."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University and author of America, Russia and the Cold War
"In this cogently argued and meticulously documented study, Arnold Offner challenges popular attitudes about Harry Truman's leadership. Another Such Victory presents a powerful indictment of a president whose inexperience, provincialism, and uncritical acceptance of the superiority of American values and interests led to needlessly provocative policies that exacerbated international tensions at a crucial juncture in modern world history. . . . [O]ne of the most important books about the early Cold War to appear in the past decade."Robert J. McMahon, University of Florida
"In this cogently argued and meticulously documented study, Arnold Offner challenges popular attitudes about Harry Truman's leadership. Another Such Victory presents a powerful indictment of a president whose inexperience, provincialism, and uncritical acceptance of the superiority of American values and interests led to needlessly provocative policies that exacerbated international tensions at a crucial juncture in modern world history. . . . [O]ne of the most important books about the early Cold War to appear in the past decade."--Robert J. McMahon, University of Florida
"Offner has written a provocative, critical analysis of Harry S Truman, now the most acclaimed president of the Cold War era. Everyone who has read McCullough on Truman will want to read Offner and reexamine previous conclusions. If you are interested in executive decision-making in times of international crisis, this is a book worth reading and pondering."--Melvyn Leffler, University of Virgina and fellow, The Woodrow Wilson Center
"This important contribution to Truman biography and Cold War history runs against the grain of much recent scholarship. It is certain to generate controversy and open up debate."--David Reynolds, Christ's College, Cambridge University
"This major book is a critical revisionist portrait of Truman's personal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. . . . The importance of the scholarship, the author's careful voice of reasonable criticism, the lucid writing styleall should give the book a popular readership that reaches beyond the university and foreign policy publics."J. Garry Clifford, University of Connecticut
"This major book is a critical revisionist portrait of Truman's personal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. . . . The importance of the scholarship, the author's careful voice of reasonable criticism, the lucid writing style--all should give the book a popular readership that reaches beyond the university and foreign policy publics."--J. Garry Clifford, University of Connecticut
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, February 2002
Library Journal, March 2002
Wall Street Journal, April 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
"This major book is a critical revisionist portrait of Truman's personal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. . . . The importance of the scholarship, the author's careful voice of reasonable criticism, the lucid writing styleall should give the book a popular readership that reaches beyond the university and foreign policy publics."J. Garry Clifford, University of Connecticut "At a moment in the early 2lst century when the choices in a new crisis seem simply black and white, this is precisely the kind of historical perspective we should have. Professor Offner has reopened a long overdue debate on Harry Trumanboth on the man and his role in the origins of the Cold War. . . . [I]t certainly demands to be read and widely discussed."Walter LaFeber, Cornell University and author of America, Russia and the Cold War
Back Cover Copy
"This major book is a critical revisionist portrait of Truman's personal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. . . . The importance of the scholarship, the author's careful voice of reasonable criticism, the lucid writing style--all should give the book a popular readership that reaches beyond the university and foreign policy publics."--J. Garry Clifford, University of Connecticut "At a moment in the early 2lst century when the choices in a new crisis seem simply black and white, this is precisely the kind of historical perspective we should have. Professor Offner has reopened a long overdue debate on Harry Truman--both on the man and his role in the origins of the Cold War. . . . [I]t certainly demands to be read and widely discussed."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University and author of America, Russia and the Cold War
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Independence to Washingtonp. 1
First Encountersp. 22
Preparing for Peacemakingp. 47
A Stony Place: Potsdamp. 71
A Personal Declaration of Cold Warp. 100
The Year of Decisionsp. 125
The Die Is Castp. 153
In Behalf of Europe: The Truman Doctrine, 1947-1952p. 185
The World Split in Two: The Marshall Plan and the Division of Europep. 213
Cat on a Sloping Tin Roof: The Berlin Blockade, 1948-1949p. 245
"To Make the Whole World Safe for Jews": Truman and Palestine-Israelp. 274
"Sand in a Rat Hole": Double Policy in Chinap. 307
Turning Point: Containment Comes to Koreap. 347
Rollback to Retreat: The Politics of Warp. 381
Double Containment: America over Europe Dividedp. 424
Conclusion: Truman and Another Such Victoryp. 456
Notesp. 471
Bibliographyp. 569
Indexp. 589
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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