If this book was intended to bolster the former Senate majority leader's credentials as a candidate for secretary of state, we are fortunate that President Bill Clinton selected Madeline Albright instead. This collection of cliches and conventional wisdom takes us on a meandering tour of twentieth-century history, from Lenin and Krupskaya at the Finland Station to Yeltsin on a tank, with swipes at Newt Gingrich along the way. Mitchell's recounting of familiar historical facts and episodes would be less objectionable if so many of them were not wrong. He assigns America a substantial share of responsibility for the deepening Cold War, asserts that Alger Hiss was "alleged" by a disreputable Whittaker Chambers to be a Soviet spy, and claims that the Cold War was a period of "certainty" in foreign policy. Still angry over Congress' failure to pass the 1993 fiscal stimulus package, he argues that the Japanese do not have any qualms about massive public works spending; he seems not to have noticed that the U.S. economy has grown 20 percent in the interim, compared to 4 percent for Japan.
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