The Carter administration represented a momentous, if transitional, period in U.S. national security policy, and it remains curiously understudied. President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of defense was the brilliant but shy Harold Brown, always on top of his brief and looking for pragmatic solutions to the short-term crises and long-term policy dilemmas that faced the administration. This exhaustive study of Brown’s four years at the Pentagon is not for novices, but it does contain valuable accounts of all the critical debates that shaped the Carter era: how to control the defense budget, how to pursue strategic arms control, how to solve the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, and how to respond to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that began that same year.
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