In This Review

Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order
Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order
By Timothy Andrews Sayle
360 pp, Cornell University Press, 2019
Purchase

Why is NATO the longest-lasting alliance of the modern era? Scholars have typically pointed to the shared democratic values of its members, which many believe forge a unique bond. In his carefully researched history, Sayle inverts this conventional understanding. In NATO's early decades, government elites maintained the pact as a buffer against the whims of fickle democratic electorates that might too quickly succumb to Soviet peace overtures and undermine the balance of power in the Cold War. Drawing on extensive archival records, Sayle rehearses in detail the founding of NATO and its early operations, highlighting the importance of intergovernmental elites—ministers, diplomats, commanders—working outside public view to manage and protect the alliance’s integrity. NATO’s resiliency is rooted in the day-to-day efforts of this multinational corps of officials, dedicated to keeping the alliance afloat. What is NATO's future? Sayle argues that the underlying rationale for the alliance still holds, although updated slightly for today: keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Europeans together.