The Blog


11:00 PM, Mar 31, 1996 • By JOSHUA MURAVCHIK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Winik's book has its flaws. It contains thousands of words too many, most of them adjectives and metaphors. ("For the American people," he says in one passage, "... it was a remarkably intimate relationship, as though Reagan resided not simply in their hearts but in their homes ... Reagan was also a colossus, the man boldly rebuilding America's spirit and restoring its dominance in the world. He was fresh and buoyant, forceful and persuasive, and always inspiring... able to forge and rally not just his administration, but the entire nation, literally lifting it by force of his own dominating presence and the sheer strength of his vision.") It reconstructs by conjecture events or conversations which the author cannot possibly know about or convey verbatim. (When the fatal Soviet missile struck Korean Air Lines flight 007 in the dead of night, "most of the 269 passengers were wide awake," he tells us.) He oversimplifies. (McGovern's : "young reformers cheered... for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and the Vietcong," he asserts.) He sometimes fumbles the facts. (Ben Gilman is not a Democrat, and Carter did not meet soon after his election with representatives of CDM.)

Still, On the Brink adds grist to the mill of debate about those most intriguing questions of contemporary history: Why did the Soviet Union collapse, and whom should we thank? The one thing we know for sure is that, the State of the Union message notwithstanding, it is not Bill Clinton.

Joshua Muravchik is a resident scholar at the Amerian Tenterprise Institue.