In This Review

Modernity and Power: A History of the Domino Theory in the Twentieth Century
Modernity and Power: A History of the Domino Theory in the Twentieth Century
By Frank Ninkovich
University of Chicago Press, 1994, 418 pp

Ninkovich, a professor of history at St. John's University, centers his investigation on the worldviews of presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson, with Woodrow Wilson--the originator of the domino theory--occupying the starring role. America's Cold War strategy emerges as an "ongoing attempt to work out neo-Wilsonian solutions to a nightmarish set of problems first defined by Wilson." Though writing primarily as an intellectual historian, and thus concerned with tracing the assumptions and implications--as opposed to the merits--of this worldview, Ninkovich is basically sympathetic to the globalist vision it produced. The author has a delightful gift for inventive metaphor but also a penchant for abstraction that sometimes makes the text rough going. Still, this book represents a very considerable achievement, with superb portraits, in particular, of Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and John Kennedy.