In This Review

Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan
Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan
By Raymond L. Garthoff
Brookings, 1985, 1147 pp
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The adjective "monumental" should be used by reviewers on only the rarest occasions. This is one. The author, whose career has combined scholarship on the Soviet Union with stints as a foreign policy adviser in the U.S. government, demonstrates how much it is possible to learn about Soviet thinking and behavior if one knows Russian, has long experience, and applies energy and intelligence to exhaustive research. The book treats 15 years of crowded and complex events in meticulous detail. The large theme is the self-serving refusal of both sides to make the necessary effort to understand the other. The analysis and criticism of the Carter Administration-when dFtente gave way to confrontation and American officials persistently distorted or misread Soviet actions-is better than anything yet written on that subject. The quotation from Machiavelli at the head of the book is apt: "In order to know what is going to happen, one must know what has happened." Anyone dealing with Soviet-American relations today should start with this book and take the many hours required to read it carefully.