cover image The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope: 1945–1953

The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope: 1945–1953

Robert Dallek., Harper, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-162866-5

After WWII, the most destructive war in history, everyone yearned for a better world. Veteran historian Dallek (Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power) delivers a shrewd analysis of why world leaders failed to deliver it. Reviewing postwar crises—Soviet occupation of eastern Europe, the creation of Israel, India's independence, France's occupation of Indochina, China's civil war, the Korean War—Dallek sadly concludes that the Allies misread history, eschewing anything that smacked of appeasement, treating opponents, mostly the U.S.S.R., as they should have treated Hitler. Without attempting to rehabilitate Stalin, Dallek asserts that Western leaders managed to push all his paranoid buttons. Notwithstanding their conviction that he aimed to conquer the world, Stalin was no apostle of world revolution but a conventional nationalist obsessed with protecting Russia's borders and maintaining his own power. Despite repeated painful experiences and immense expense, traditional, pugnacious power politics proved irresistible (except, ironically, to WWII's losers, Germany and Japan), Dallek concludes in this perceptive work. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)