Reagan and Gorbachev
How the Cold War Ended
By Jack Matlock
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812974898, 400pp.)
Publication Date: November 8, 2005
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In Reagan and Gorbachev, Jack F. Matlock, Jr., gives an eyewitness account of how the Cold War ended, with humankind declared the winner. As Reagan’s principal adviser on Soviet and European affairs, and later as the U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R., Matlock lived history: He was the point person for Reagan’s evolving policy of conciliation toward the Soviet Union. Working from his own papers, recent interviews with major figures, and archival sources both here and abroad, Matlock offers an insider’s perspective on a diplomatic campaign far more sophisticated than previously thought, led by two men of surpassing vision.
Matlock details how, from the start of his term, Reagan privately pursued improved U.S.—U.S.S.R. relations, while rebuilding America’s military and fighting will in order to confront the Soviet Union while providing bargaining chips. When Gorbachev assumed leadership, however, Reagan and his advisers found a potential partner in the enterprise of peace. At first the two leaders sparred, agreeing on little. Gradually a form of trust emerged, with Gorbachev taking politically risky steps that bore long-term benefits, like the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the U.S.S.R.’s significant unilateral troop reductions in 1988.
Through his recollections and unparalleled access to the best and latest sources, Matlock describes Reagan’s and Gorbachev’s initial views of each other. We learn how the two prepared for their meetings; we discover that Reagan occasionally wrote to Gorbachev in his own hand, both to personalize the correspondence and to prevent nit-picking by hard-liners in his administration. We also see how the two men were pushed closer together by the unlikeliest characters (Senator Ted Kennedy and François Mitterrand among them) and by the two leaders’ remarkable foreign ministers, George Shultz and Eduard Shevardnadze.
The end of the Cold War is a key event in modern history, one that demanded bold individuals and decisive action. Both epic and intimate, Reagan and Gorbachev will be the standard reference, a work that is critical to our understanding of the present and the past.
First posted to Moscow in 1961, career diplomat JACK F. MATLOCK, JR., was America’s man on the scene for most of the Cold War. A scholar of Russian history and culture, Matlock was President Reagan’s choice for the crucial post of ambassador to the Soviet Union. He is the author of Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador’s Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Matlock now divides his time between Princeton, New Jersey, and his wife’s farm in Booneville, Tennessee.
Praise for Autopsy on an Empire
“A superb analysis of the achievements and problems of the Soviet system and a fascinating account of the people and events that brought its collapse . . . Matlock writes with the authority of long years of service in Moscow, and at the State Department and the National Security Council. His close-up view of the most important events of our century is the unique product of careful scholarship and an extraordinary diplomatic career.”
–HERBERT J. ELLISON, professor of Russian history, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington
“No person is better equipped to describe the extraordinary change from the Soviet Union into Russia than Ambassador Matlock. His background in Russian history, language, culture, literature, and politics makes him one of the world’s outstanding authorities on the question. . . . [Matlock] knows practically all of the people about whom he is writing and conveys their character, prejudices, strengths, and shortcomings in vivid colors.”
–MAX M. KAMPELMAN, former counselor of the Department of State and U.S. nuclear arms control negotiator
“No other American had the opportunity to observe the Soviet government’s collapse at such close range. Thanks to Ambassador Matlock’s excellent contacts and mature judgment, his book represents a unique record of this historic event.”
–RICHARD PIPES, Frank Baird, Jr., Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University