There are unique periods in history when a single year witnesses the total transformation of international relations. The year 1989 was one such crucial watershed. This book uses previously unavailable sources to explore the momentous events following the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago and the effects they have had on our world ever since.
Based on documents, interviews, and television broadcasts from many different locations, including Moscow, Berlin, Bonn, Paris, London, and Washington, 1989 describes how Germany unified, NATO expansion began, and Russia got left on the periphery of the new Europe. Mary Sarotte explains that while it was clear past a certain point that the Soviet Bloc would crumble, there was nothing inevitable about what would follow. A wide array of political players--from leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, George H. W. Bush, and James Baker, to organizations like NATO and the European Community, to courageous individual dissidents--all proposed courses of action and models for the future. In front of global television cameras, a competition ensued, ultimately won by those who wanted to ensure that the "new" order looked very much like the old. Sarotte explores how the aftermath of this fateful victory, and Russian resentment of it, continue to shape world politics today.
Presenting diverse perspectives from the political elite as well as ordinary citizens, 1989 is compelling reading for anyone who cares about international relations past, present, or future.
"Sarotte's focus is on Germany. . . . [She] describes a host of competing conceptions of post-cold-war Europe that flourished, mutated and perished in the maelstrom of events that led up to German unity. . . . Two decades later . . . [t]here are still nuclear missiles aimed across the continent. It's hard to imagine that it could have been otherwise--but, Sarotte shows us, it could have been."--Paul Hockenos, New York Times Book Review
"A great virtue of Mary Elise Sarotte's 1989 is that she makes the problem of hindsight bias explicit, and systematically explores the roads not taken."--Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books
"Much the most exciting of these books is Mary Elise Sarotte's 1989. In contrast to the other authors, Sarotte treats the uprisings and collapses of that year as a prelude to the biggest change of all: 'the struggle to create post-Cold War Europe', as her subtitle puts it. . . . Sarottte [is] a lucid and compelling writer."--Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books
"The author embeds her interpretation in a sharp-eyed, fluent narrative of 1989-1990 that sees the realpolitik behind the stirring upheavals. . . . [S]he offers a smart and canny analysis of the birth of our not-so-new world order."--Publishers Weekly
"Mary Elise Sarotte's 1989 . . . shows why this post-Cold War world, and not a different one, came out of the dramatic events of 1989, and why the result was bound to pit the U.S. against Russia again in the twenty-first century."--George Packer, NewYorker.com
"A hugely impressive study that looks beyond 1989 to the many-faceted battle to shape the new Europe."--Gerard DeGroot, Washington Post
File created: 2/2/2015