Of Walls And Bridges: The United States And Eastern Europe

In This Review

Of Walls And Bridges: The United States And Eastern Europe

By Bennett Kovrig
New York University Press, 1991
425 pp. $40.00

Kovrig has given us an outstanding study, both scholarly and readable, on American policy toward eastern Europe from World War II to the present, likely to be the standard work on the subject. Building on his earlier The Myth of Liberation, published in 1973, he carries on through the alternating periods of tension and détente in U.S.-Soviet relations and those of reaction, reform and crisis in the east European countries themselves. He devotes long, meaty chapters to those areas of policy-human rights, economic levers and the structure of security-by which the United States attempted to work toward its major political aim: the reduction and eventual elimination of Soviet and communist domination of eastern Europe. Despite the punctured illusions, the ineffectiveness of many policies and the limited American capabilities within the security sphere of the rival superpower, Kovrig recognizes the record as generally creditable. While the eventual liberation of the east European nations was primarily the result of their own actions and changes in the U.S.S.R., American steadfastness in maintaining its aim, and flexible practical policies in support of it, were not insignificant factors in the ultimate victory.

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