Book Review Number 25

To Build a Better World – Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice

This book is essentially a review of European political history between 1988 and 1992. It deals with the collapse of the Soviet Union, establishment of the European Union, unification of Germany, and the associated political crisis management by the US and European governments. The authors were both senior staff members of the US Bush Administration in that historic time. They were witnesses to and intimately involved in the high level US and European government efforts to prevent economic, political, humanitarian, and military catastrophe on the European continent during that transition period.

The authors provide a clear account of the efforts to manage the political and economic instability in the face of the epic changes occurring, particularly in eastern Europe. They give a candid view of what was going on at the highest levels of the US and the major European governments – the goals, actions, and fear that leaders were wrestling with at the time.

I found this book especially interesting to me on a personal level. In that exact timeframe I was pursuing investment opportunities and development of business relationships in the Soviet Union and its eastern European satellite countries. Of course I did not know, and I doubt the senior bureaucrats I was working with knew, about the turmoil in their own governments and all the secret activities going on at the highest levels. My experience 30 years ago makes more sense now in light of the revelations in this book.

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