Kennedy's Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam

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Oxford University Press, 2002 - History - 528 pages
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In his thousand-day presidency, John F. Kennedy led America throuh one of its most difficult and potentially explosive areas. With the Cold War at its height and the threat of communist advances in Europe and the Third World, Kennedy had the unenviable task of maintaining US solidarity withoutleading the western world into a nuclear catastrophe.In 'Kennedy's Wars', noted historian Lawrence Freedman draws on the best of Cold War scholarship and newly released government documents to illuminate Kennedy's approach to war and his efforts for peace. He recreates insightfully the political and intellectual milieu of the foreign policyestablishment during Kennedy's era with vivid profiles of his top advisors - Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Robert Kennedy - and influential figures such as Dean Acheson and Walt Rostow. Tracing the evolution of traditional liberalism into the Cold War liberalism of Kennedy's cabinet, Freedmanevaluates their responses to the tensions in Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. He gives each conflict individual attention, showing how foreign policy decisions came to be defined for each new crisis in the light of those that had gone before. Readers will follow Kennedy as he wrestles with thesuccession of major conflicts - taking advice, weighing the risks of inadvertently escalating the Cold War into outright military confrontation, exploring diplomatic options, and forming strategic judgements that would eventually prevent a major war during his presidency.'Kennedy's Wars' offers a dynamic and human portrait of Kennedy under pressure: a political leader shaped by the ideas of his time, conscious of his vulnerability to electoral defeat but also of his nation's vulnerability to nuclear war. Military and Kennedy enthusiasts will find its balancedconsideration of the president's foreign policy and provocative 'what if' scenarios invaluable keys to understanding his accomplishments, failures, and enduring legacy.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - timmydc - LibraryThing

Freedman provides a balanced view of four hot spots which President John F. Kennedy managed and faced during his presidency; Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. Freedman makes a fair assessment without ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcprowe - LibraryThing

Kennedy's Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam by Lawrence Freedman JFK was assassinated six years before I was born. I have been fascinated by JFK since I don't know when. One of my interests in JFK ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
I The Cold War and How to Fight It
11
II Berlin and Nuclear Strategy
43
III Cuba
121
IV Alliances and Détente
247
V Vietnam
285
Conclusion
415
Acknowledgments
421
Notes
423
Bibliography
489
Index
507
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About the author (2002)


Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King's College, London since 1982. He has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the Cold War, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. Elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995, he was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.

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