4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Neal F. Thompson, in his nonfiction book Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991, made me realize that everything I know about the Cold War American history might be a lie.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s, at the peak of Romania’s Communist dictatorship era of the Ceausescu regime, so I was aware of the Cold War that had taken place a few decades before my time. USSR was north of us still looming over the horizon. America was the country everyone wanted to escape to, everyone looked up to. It was the world’s superpower, the one shining pillar standing between freedom and our totalitarian regime. Little did I know that behind that angelic facade there were much more sinister forces at work.
The author leads us step by step through the most important events of those times starting with the end of WWII. The Truman era with the Korean War and the Truman Doctrine, followed by America’s sore point, the Vietnam War, and the end of the Cold War initiated by Ronald Reagan are just some highlights from the long and complex book. Neal F. Thompson works hard to expose America’s dirty secrets that people who follow the news through the radio, television, and media might not know about. And those who know, prefer to close a blind eye and pretend it never happened. Everyone wants to believe the wars America was involved in for so many decades were Good wars that had to be fought, that were justified, with soldiers dying for the country, following strong ideals and morals. But what if the wars were actually Bad wars?
It all started with America’s absolute hatred for and struggle against Communism, which was rooted so deep that millions of people all over the world had to die for.
I won’t go into details because the book has too much information to even skim the surface in this review. You have to read it to experience it for yourself. It is the hidden history of the evils even idolized presidents like J.F. Kennedy seemed to have committed in the name of ridding the world of Communism.
Towards the end, the book even reveals how several Eastern-European countries freed themselves from the claws of the Communism with America’s help. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, these were the nearby countries that overcame their plights. Much to my surprise, the author didn’t mention Romania in this chapter, although I don’t believe many of our neighbors rid themselves of their dictators quite the heart-stopping way we did it in the winter of 1989. But I digress.
The author includes hundreds of quotations from other books, journals, and articles, to support all the claims he has made throughout the pages. This is not an unsupported work. It is a well-researched manuscript that was put together using many credible and relevant sources.
Overall, Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991 is a book that makes you think. A lot. It gives you glimpses into a history that many people would rather forget. In the author’s own words:
"For there is something frightfully wrong with a political system that generated years of war, oceans of blood, and millions of dead and wounded around the world” in the name of progressing interventionism and global engineering paradigms.
By the time I finished reading it, I realized I was exhausted. First of all, it was a book quite heavy to digest. It described a part of American history that we haven’t really explored in school. I was now cramming a whole year of high-school history in one week. Second, the pdf document was styled in two columns per page, making it awkward to read on my small-screened iPad. Because the writing was tiny (and at the age of 50, my eyes are not that sharp anymore), I had to enlarge all 250+ pages and read each column separately before flipping to the next page. After finishing it, I clicked over to Amazon to check the layout of the published book. Thankfully, there the pages are formatted properly with one column per page in a regular sized font.
Despite my annoyance with the formatting, I give Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991 4 out of 4 stars. I haven’t found any major grammatical errors while reading. It is a thought-provoking book that made me stop and think. Repeatedly. It made me see the world in a different (much darker) light. I still don’t believe it’s the definitive history of the Cold War, but as they say, there’s no smoke without fire. I recommend this book to history buffs and to those who want to have a peek at an alternative view of the Cold War with all its controversial and gory details.
Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like kislany's review? Post a comment saying so!