Customer Reviews of A World Transformed
Insightful and largely empty of self-congratulations
This makes one realize that Bush and his team get far too little credit for guiding the country, and indeed the world, through potentially destablizing events with steady hands. The breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany and Desert Storm all could hardly have turned out better for democracy and freedom, and Bush should get a great deal more credit for that than he gets now. "A World Transformed" is also written with the average intelligent reader in mind, instead of the policy wonk. (Which makes one wonder, in retrospect, why Bush had such a hard time communicating with the American people in 1992). A worthy effort by two worthy public servants who, alas, are missed a great deal by their nation.
An astounding masterpiece!
As a life-long "liberal" I was very skeptical of a book written by two Republicans, but also being fascinated by "geo-politics" I gave it a try - and WOW! was I surprised! What a marvelous book describing the 'behind the scenes' account of some of the most important and momentous events of the 20th century. By not focusing on domestic policies [i.e. politics] the book shows how deftly America (and Bush) managed these dramatic events (winning the Cold War, the Gulf War, etc.). In retrospect, it appears Bush served America very well and it is too bad he only served four years. In summary, politics (partisanship) aside, any reader interested in America's role in the dramatic geo-political events at the close of the 20th century will not be disappointed in this book!
Detailed and Thrilling Account of Historic Change
George Bush and Brent Scowcroft have written a great book about a fascinating subject. This is very engaging and at times is very much a page turner. I was left thinking that a more detailed account of history being made by the movers themselves may not exist. The end of the Cold War is a great story in and of itself, but also a story that could have had a very different ending were it not for the team that managed to bring it to a successful close.
This is a very honest book by honest men. Evenly though successful on all of the big issues, they write of miscues, uncertainty and difficulties in reaching the "right" decision. It is not a self-praise tome, but a book that is not afraid to lay out an accurate rendering of the facts and atmosphere. The reader has enough information and background to put himself in the role of President and ask, "What would I have done in that siguation." It's the mark of a thorough book.
One can not help but come away impressed by the Bush foreign policy apparatus and the President's own grasp of events, the players and the vital interests of the United States. He, aided by one of the best foreign policy / national security teams ever assembled, played America's hand superbly.
After reading this book, anyone who still believes that any President's main responsibility is "the economy, stupid" is.....well, stupid.
Surprisingly good and informative
I did not have high expectations for this book, given the dramatically uneven quality of most historical memoirs. But Bush and Scowcroft's book manages to give a fly-on-the-wall view of the truly epoch-making events that took place on their watch. Now it's hard to believe that all this (and more) took place during only one presidential term, but it's clear that in the center of the storm there was a remarkably unified team with the ability to see a few steps ahead -- and even more importantly, understand the consequences of American action. It's not enough for the US to simply follow trends, sabre-rattle, or hew to the middle path. The crucial role of leadership, particularly in the face of dissent, comes through clearly.
The best feature about the book is undoubtedly the unique "three-voiced" way of telling the story -- Bush, Scowcroft, and the 'narrarator' that reflects both their input. I was skeptical that they'd be able to pull this off, but they did. While most historical memoirs either read like something put together by a staff of research assistants (Kissinger and Nixon's books come to mind) or are exercises in score-settling (Brzezinski, to a degree), this one really gives a sense of both mens' attitudes and beliefs -- and they're pretty forthcoming about both their counterparts and their own errors.
Essential Foreign Affairs work
Although they left office only six years ago, it seems the world they describe is nothing like the one today. The collapse of communism, the Gulf War, and the crackdown in China seem so far removed from the current Balkan battles and Asian/Russian economic woes.
The book is much more than a "kiss and tell" biography of the life and times of two during the Cold War. Bush and Scowcroft wisely limited their discussion to only a few matters and that allowed them to cover in more depth these important events than so many "What I Did in the White House" books that are on the market. Still, the hard core foreign affairs scholar may be seeking much more, but I think this is an important read for anyone wanting to know "how it was" at the end of the Cold War.
The book provides insight into these decisions that I found refreshing to read. It showed the personal nature that is important to diplomacy, and it spoke a great deal about trust. I don't want to sound too political because this is going to be the best history of one of the most important times since the end of World War II, but as you read about the negotiations and "first name" diplomacy practiced with incredible skill and character, you won't want to put down this book and read the newspapers because you'll just feel depressed about the current state of the Presidency.
As a friend of mine said, who hasn't yet finished the book, "It makes you long for the days when adults were in the White House."