This provocative volume, written by the distinguished diplomatic historian Thomas G. Paterson, explores why and how Americans have perceived and exaggerated the Communist threat in the last half century. Basing his spirited analysis on research in private papers, government archives, oral histories, contemporary writings, and scholarly works, Paterson explains the origins and evolution of United States global intervention. Deftly exploring the ideas and programs of Truman, Kennan, Eisenhower, Dulles, Kennedy, Nixon, Kissinger, and Reagan, as well as the views of dissenters from the prevailing Cold War mentality, Paterson reveals the tenacity of American thinking about threats from abroad. He recaptures the tumult of the last several decades by treating a wide range of topics, including post-war turmoil in Western Europe, Mao's rise in China, the Suez Canal, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, CIA covert actions, and Central America.
Paterson's vivid account of America's Cold War policies argues that, while Americans did not invent the Communist threat, they have certainly exaggerated it, nurturing a trenchant anti-communism that has had a devastating effect on international relations and American institutions.
"[The essays] compliment each other quite well, collectively providing a coherent examination of American foreign policy from the 1930s to the 1980s....The overall quality of the essays is remarkably high....The chapters on the intellectual progression of George Kennan, the originator of the containment doctrine, and on the effect of Vietnam on President Ronald Reagan's Central American policy are especially thoughtful and thought-provoking."--Oral History
"I think it is very important that Americans read this book....Meeting the Communist Threat is not only relevant to Mr. Gorbachev's recent visit, and to the difficulties we have adjusting to foreign cultures, but it supplies a description of the development of the Cold War uncolored by chauvinism."--J. William Fulbright, Former Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
"An update of Paterson's well-reasoned views."--Virginia Quarterly Review
"[Paterson] uses his thorough knowledge of the sources and a pungent style to take us behind the scenes of U.S. policy in the Cold War....The sights may not be pretty, but Paterson's handling of them is superb."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University
"[Paterson's] thorough research adds to the now considerable body of scholarship showing how sharply Washington's fear-mongering contrasted with the more sober reports produced behind closed doors."--Alan Tonelson, The New York Times Book Review
"These provocative essays by one of America's most distinguished diplomatic historians explore the origins of Cold War assumptions and analyze the use of Cold War instruments. Meeting the Communist Threat should be essential reading for all students of postwar United States' foreign policy."--George C. Herring, University of Kentucky
"A thoughtful and concise analysis of America's postwar preoccupation with communism."--Ronald Steel, School of International Relations, University of Southern California
"[A] lucidly written and persuasively argued collection."--Choice
"[Paterson] offers a most provocative account of [the Cold War] conflict, doing so in a series of essays that often flow into seamless narrative....As useful to policymakers as to those desiring a most stimulating account of the recent past."--The St. Petersburg Times