During the 1970s, American foreign policy faced a predicament of clashing imperatives - US decision makers, already struggling to maintain stability and devise strategic frameworks to guide the exercise of American power during the Cold War, found themselves hampered by the emergence of dilemmas that would come to a head in the post-Cold War era. Their choices proved to be of enormous consequence for the development of American foreign policy in the final decades of the twentieth century and beyond.
In A Superpower Transformed, historian Daniel J. Sargent chronicles how policymakers across three administrations worked to manage complex international changes in a tumultuous era. Drawing on many newly-released archival documents and interviews with key figures, including President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sargent explores the collision of geopolitics and globalization that defined the decade. From the Nixon administration's efforts to stabilize a faltering Pax Americana; to Henry Kissinger's attempts to devise new strategies to manage or mitigate the consequences of economic globalization after the oil crisis of 1973-74; to the Carter administration's embrace of human rights promotion as a central task for foreign policy, Sargent explores the challenges that afflicted US policymakers in the 1970s, offering new insights into the complexities that emerged as the new forces of globalization and human rights transformed the United States as a superpower.
A sweeping reinterpretation of a pivotal era, A Superpower Transformed is a must-listen for anyone interested in U.S. foreign relations, American politics, globalization, economic policy, human rights, and contemporary American history.
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"A clear introduction to pivotal times"
This book provided very good foreign policy introduction, as a prelude to my increasing focus on today's foreign policy. It is detailed, showing the competing considerations behind many leaders' decisions, but nicely stops short of being too encyclopedic and abstruse. Major events, laws, leaders and predicaments are clearly depicted. The point of view is, as I prefer, calm and weighing, rather than shrilly polemic. This distance respects the listener's capacity to form opinions. At the close of the book, the narrative zooms more quickly forward to the present, which was helpful to connect narratives to today. I recall many of these events, experienced then on a more naive and emotionally immediate level. The account feels true to my recollections too. I would not call the tone sprightly, quite, perhaps stately.
"Seeks to bring clarity to a confusing decade"
Containment and building a nuclear arsenal was complicated first by Nixon's and Kissinger's detante, then Carter's partial embrace of human rights in terms of int'l relations. Meanwhile, the world economy left its moorings, with oil price rises in reprisal for America's support of Israel, and Nixon felt compelled to abandon the gold standard and Bretton Woods entirely. All three presidents became weak at home, making foreign policy their best hope for a legacy. While a bit academic at times, this book effectively covers its subject.
Listening to this brought back memories of the boring lectures I sometimes endured in college. Rather than try to relate to the layman listener/reader, the author seems to have written this for the academic community. Disappointed.
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