In This Review

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War
The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War
By James Mann
Viking, 2009, 432 pp

Mann, one of the leading students of contemporary U.S. foreign policy, whose is the best study yet of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy team, has written an extraordinary account of Ronald Reagan's approach to the Soviet Union that sheds considerable light on the end of the Cold War. The Reagan Mann shows the reader is as disengaged and as ideological as his critics have frequently charged; yet time and again, he overruled his advisers as he followed his own vision and intuition. Driving Mikhail Gorbachev and his advisers to distraction with endlessly recycled platitudes and stale jokes about Soviet life -- and allowing Nancy Reagan's astrologer to set the time for the signing of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty -- Reagan nevertheless imposed a consistent vision of his own on U.S.-Soviet relations. In his first term, he defied liberals and realists to put the ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union back at the center of international politics; in his second, he defied conservatives and realists to push toward a new relationship with a Soviet regime that was steadily changing. Next to Reagan, Secretary of State George Shultz is the figure who emerges from this well-researched and well-constructed book as the American who best understood what was happening in the Soviet Union at this time.