Endgame: The Inside Story of Salt II

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Endgame: The Inside Story of Salt II

By Strobe Talbott
Harper, 1979
319 pp. $15.00
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In this unique book, the diplomatic correspondent for Time takes the reader deep into the Carter Administration's handling of the SALT negotiations from the 1977 inauguration to the Vienna signing of the Treaty. Talbott seems to have had unusual access to the principal Washington policymakers and he describes their deliberations and struggles over the two and a half years with skill, apparent accuracy and considerable detail. The negotiations with the Soviets through the delegations in Geneva, the "back-channels," and the series of Vance-Gromyko meetings are recounted; only the unobtainable internal Soviet discussions are missing. In short, this remarkable book does for SALT II what John Newhouse's Cold Dawn did for SALT I, but it is made even more comprehensive by outlining the policy preferences of a wider range of bureaucratic actors. Endgame is short on analysis and interpretation, and one wishes the material were better organized. But this is the stuff of history upon which future analysts and historians will draw. The evidence makes clear why and how the Carter Administration erred in its initial approach of seeking "deep reductions" without first completing the Vladivostok agreement. The intricacies of the enormously complex tradeoffs on issues during the closing stages of the negotiations are set forth, and the reader is left with evidence to form his own judgment about the connections between such issues as human rights, "linkage", and China, and the Soviet-American arms negotiations.

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