Cover image for Dangerous capabilities : Paul Nitze and the Cold War
Dangerous capabilities : Paul Nitze and the Cold War
Callahan, David, 1965-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Harper & Row, 1990.
Physical Description:
571 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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E743 .C233 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A timely, dramatic history of the struggles, open and secret, over national policy toward the Soviet Union since the end of World War II. Described by Gregg Herken, author of Counsels of War, as...a fascinating 'read' on a seminal--but unsung--figure in the history of the cold war.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his complementary roles as Cold War crusader and opponent of nuclear arms reductions, Paul Nitze called for a heavily armed postwar U.S. to counteract a purported Soviet drive for global domination. Callahan, managing editor of American Prospect , portrays this adviser to six presidents from FDR to Reagan as a technocrat fixated on the use of military force, a man whose moral righteousness blinded him to the contradictions of U.S. foreign policy. He faults the die-hard anticommunist for using Reagan's high-tech fantasy of a ``Star Wars'' defensive shield in space as a bargaining chip. Interweaving engrossing biography with a behind-the-scenes history of the Cold War, Callahan illuminates how massive military spending has helped reduce the U.S. to the world's largest debtor nation. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

An excellent peek into the second tier of the foreign policy bureaucracy and its contribution to America's Soviet and nuclear policy during the Cold War. Writing along the lines of Fred Kaplan's The Wizards of Armageddon, (1983), Callahan focuses on Paul Nitze's 50-year crusade against underestimating the Soviet threat and on his battles with George Kennan, John Foster Dulles, Kissinger, Warnke, Richard Perle, and Weinberger. Callahan shows Nitze as a consistent cold warrior, mistruster of the Soviet Union, supporter of defense, and an advocate of arms control agreements that contribute to stability. The author criticizes the first three attitudes, but applauds the last. Callahan rejects Nitze's assumptions about the Soviet's unremitting hostility, drive for political expansion and nuclear superiority, and exploitation of detente. Although his analysis of nuclear strategy is simplistic, Callahan does capture the essence of Nitze's strategic views. He admires Nitze's commitment to his causes, but sees him as blinded by Cold War obessions, doomsayer's delusions, and intransigent hawkishness. Despite oft-stated objections to Nitze's philosophy, Callahan portrays it as objectively as he can and produces an excellent and very readable review of US thinking about political and strategic relations with the USSR. For general audiences and undergraduates. -L. S. Hulett, Knox College(IL)