The Ambassadors and America's Soviet Policy

David Mayers, Author Oxford University Press, USA $120 (368p) ISBN 978-0-19-506802-3
Brimming with revelations, Mayers's study pulls diplomacy from the shadows and highlights its role in shaping U.S.-Soviet relations. His specific subject is U.S. ambassadors to the U.S.S.R.; his thesis is that America's Soviet policy benefited when the Moscow embassy was in competent hands and, conversely, suffered when the mission was sacrificed to political expediency, staffed by the mediocre or ignored by Washington. As examples of diplomatic successes, he cites Averell Harriman's cementing of a wartime alliance with the Soviets to defeat Hitler, Foy Kohler's meetings with Khrushchev during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and Jack Matlock's close relations with Kremlin leaders as the U.S.S.R. tilted toward collapse in the late 1980s. On the negative side, he lists David Francis, befuddled by Bolshevism and the October Revolution; Joseph Davies, apologist for Stalin's purge trials; and Eisenhower's neglect of ambassadors Charles Bohlen and Llewellyn Thompson, whose analysis of the deteriorating Sino-Soviet alliance and of Khrushchev's erratic career could have been strategically advantageous. Mayers (George Kennan and the Dilemmas of U.S. Foreign Policy) is a political science professor at Boston University. Photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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