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War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, & the Generals Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Abridged edition (1 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743508408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743508407
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.6 x 15.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,639,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of 17 books, including War in a Time of Peace, David Halberstam has a gift for bringing current events alive and putting them into historical perspective in an engaging way. In many respects, War in a Time of Peace serves as a sequel to his classic The Best and the Brightest in its examination of how the lessons of Vietnam have influenced American foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. Beginning with the Persian Gulf War, Halberstam discusses the political shift in emphasis from foreign to domestic issues that ushered in the first Clinton administration. Despite the fact that Clinton, along with much of the country, preferred to focus on the home front, the US nonetheless found itself drawn into conflicts in Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans--events that reflected American discomfort with the use of its military forces abroad while at the same time acknowledging that much of the world is dependent upon the US for both guidance and support. The book also highlights the many nonpolitical factors that have influenced these political changes, including a generational shift in national leadership, the modern media's emphasis on entertainment over foreign news, a leap in military technology and American economic prosperity that has rendered foreign policy largely irrelevant to many citizens.

Halberstam is a master at presenting well-rounded portraits and telling anecdotes of the personalities that have created US policy, casting new light on well-known figures such as Clinton, Colin Powell and George W Bush, as well as supporting players such as Anthony Lake, Richard Holbrooke, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, General Wesley Clark, Al Gore and many other influential American leaders of the past decade. Having covered many aspects of American history and foreign policy since the early 1960s, Halberstam is uniquely qualified to report on an era in which the US, and the world, has changed so dramatically. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Leslie H. Gelbpresident, Council on Foreign RelationsHalberstam's most important book, more ambitious and revealing than "The Best and the Brightest," in what it tells of politics and decision making in America during the nineties. Just as Vietnam was the test case for our elders, the Balkans and other tragic conflicts became the proving ground for the Bush and Clinton administrations. What Halberstam has written is nothing less than a "War and Peace" for our generation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The chillout consultant on 3 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
Halberstam's intention is to 'look at America through our decisions on foreign policy'. He principally considers party politics (there are some wonderful mini-biographies of Bush, Clinton and other Administration members) and its intersection with military culture and personnel, with sideways glances at technological developments in warfare - especially in the air force - and the media, whose increasing preference for fluffy, throwaway, home grown stories is blamed for foreign policy’s slide down the political and media agenda at the end of the Cold War.
Halberstam writes very well, reminding me a little of Alistair Cooke, with an ear for a well-turned phrase, editorialising little and gently, dropping nuggets of wisdom throughout the book. This could easily have been a rambling marathon; at over 500 pages, it charts the lives and times of the major players in American Government and military circles in the 90's. That your attention is held throughout and you are not only engaged with the characters but are able to see the threads running between them is due to the deftness of the writing. Halberstam develops his themes without ever boring you with them. This isn't Tolstoy, but the scale and nature of the project is similar - it is no dry history.
Many European readers, particularly from the Left, will wonder where the critique of corporate influence on American foreign policy is. In truth Halberstam focuses on conflicts where the US had no or very little economic interest – Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo. What unfolds is a fascinating account of a country coming to terms with being the only superpower, in a world where the major issue was probably not going to be armed conflict between states, but terrorism and genocide in the developing world.
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Format: Paperback
This book is Halberstam's study of leadership failure: in the Post-Cold War world older, he argues, Bush and then Clinton did not want to pay attention to the disintegration of Yugoslavia until it reached murderous proportions; instead they let the overly confident Europeans of the early 1990s dawdle. According to Halberstam, not only were there new (untested, i.e. risky) technologies available ' precision bombs and the B-2 stealth aircraft that could quickly take out the infrastructure with virtually no collateral civilian damage ' but there was a new crop of remarkable young leaders who were willing, indeed who felt personally compelled, to take the task on and were not allowed to do so. Furthermore, the author claims, there was a crusty layer of (often mediocre) leadership below Bush and Clinton, who were wary of entering a new Vietnam (or Somalia), throwing up political barriers and misleading them as to America's strengths.
I was astonished at Halberstam's descriptions of the technological advances that had taken place and how Pentagon doctrine had tended to lag far behind: we can, he says, now deliver powerful explosive devices within a few feet (!) of their targets, a gain in accuracy over earlier bombs that surpasses several orders of magnitude. After many doubts and false claims, apparently we are entering the era of 'smart bombs' and Halberstam dissects the debates they engender at the top levels of the military. This is very powerful stuff and will change our lives.
According to Halberstam, the younger leaders, in particular the diplomat Richard Holbrooke and the army commander Wes Clark, had unusual skills and phenomenal brainpower.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good stuff - but was surprised by Halberstam referring to as having been previously 'sworn enemies' when he was writing about the break-up of Yugoslavia and the ensuing wars. Britain and France had not exchanged shots in the previous 150 or more years. (I don't believe DH was considering the Petain adventures with Hitler as having been representative of France as a nation - though there is some room for interpretation there).

DH also seems mistakenly mix the European Community with the Europian Union - with DH seeming to think the EU preceded the EC. A good editor should have caught this.
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Format: Paperback
Very pleaded with its good binding. Pages are intact and easy to write on - sorry, my bad reading habit never fades away.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 88 reviews
100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Ghosts of Vietnam Haunt 1990s American Foreign Policy 11 Oct. 2001
By Craig L. Howe - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a professor who defined journalism as "history written in a hurry." In his sequel to The Best And The Brightest author David Halberstam uses the journalist's tools - personal interviews and background research - to explore how the shadow of Vietnam and the Cold War shaped the United States' foreign policy during the 1990s.
What emerges, is a thoughtful, portrait of the United States from the perspective of its foreign policy decisions. It is a book written for thoughtful citizens; a book that, clearly, was not written in a hurry; a book that unearths the struggles, egos and the political maneuvering among the key figures in The White House, the State Department and the military. Halberstam shows how the decisions of Vietnam War Veterans, like Colin Powell and Anthony Lake, and those who were not, like President William Clinton, influenced American politics and policy.
Lesser-known players who contributed to the picture were not overlooked. Halberstam notes that the irony of the Gulf War was the wrong branch of the service and the wrong military leaders were celebrated at its conclusion. Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell received ovations for their humiliation of an allegedly mighty, but now bedraggled Iraqi Army.
If one man was responsible, he notes, it was an innovative air force strategist, Colonel John Warden. At the time of the Gulf War, Warden was the head of a top-secret air force group working within The Pentagon and represented a group of younger military officers who were eager to adapt military thinking and planning to the uses of the new technological advanced weaponry.
The major opposition to his thinking came not from the army or even civilians, but rather senior officers in his service branch, especially three and four star generals attached to the Tactical Air Command. They believed the airpower was there to support the army on the ground. They despised Warden and his ideas. As luck would have it, when General Schwarzkopf requested an air plan for Desert Storm, Warden's senior officer was on leave and the request found its way to his desk.
Roy Gutman, an American reporter who happened to be in Yugoslavia in 1991 and was starting to write what would be a series of prophetic dispatches for Newsday, the Long Island, New York daily, is another unknown player. Stationed in Belgrade from 1973 to 1975 as a Reuter's correspondent, he had embraced what he termed as "the golden age of Tito", a Serbo-centrism that tempered the vision of many western diplomats and journalists.
On his return in 1991 he saw signs that Yugoslavia was becoming a different country. An interview with Vojislav Seselj, an ultra nationalist Serb who had once been jailed by Tito for his ethnic views and was known for his personal cruelty, convinced the journalist that something sinister was about to happen with its likely epicenter as Banja Luka, a city in Northern Bosnia, which time which prove to be the home of the Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Halberstam's search for the real story behind the headlines gives the reader clear insights into why events in the Balkans, Haiti and Somalia reflect American foreign policy and politics. He discusses the wariness of the U. S. military to ever be caught again in a ground war lacing clear objectives, the frustrations of political leaders who never served in the military and their effects on American commanders in Kosovo.
On the last page of the book, the author allows himself a glimpse into our future, which in light of the events of September 11, 2001 proves tragically prescient. Writing in May, 2001, Halberstam, allows himself to speculate about the need for a missile shield, what he terms "a high-tech Maginot Line, the wrong idea at the wrong time." He notes that intelligence analysts believe "the threat to an open society like America c[o]mes from terrorists, rather than the military power of rogue states" which themselves present an exceptional target.
The author has carved a unique niche for himself. His books are the product of four to five years of research, a luxury few, if any other journalists are indulged. The emerging portrait of the United States is vivid and full of human detail.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Halberstam's second most important book. 28 Nov. 2001
By Tony Sanchez - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was a tough read because of the author�s too frequent clauses within nearly every sentence. Also, there are many names to remember, and the publisher could have provided a map of the region in question. Otherwise, I would have given this book a full 5 star rating.

That aside, this was an exceptionally good book on the recent Balkan war that was fought by NATO. The Balkan war is notable in military history for being the first war waged and won strictly through the use of air power. It is also considered Pres. Clinton�s greatest foreign policy success.
As military history, the book is a worthwhile read. The author, however, ventures beyond the military aspects to tie in the political, historical, sociological, and psychological countenance of the individuals involved with the campaign. I found it of particular interest to read about the pettiness of the military structure as it related to the president, and its own field commander.
The author is not shy in offering his analysis of each major character, but he remained even-handed. He, for example, described the power of Gen. Powell�s personality, but who also used his position to prematurely close discussion on important international issues. He similarly discusses other major characters (especially Clinton, Gore, Gen. Clark and Bush I).
The author does not attempt to present the most encompassing story of the war, and he is generous in citing authors of very recent publications including the recent memoirs of NATO commander Clark. The serious student will be able to find greater detail of the Balkans, the diplomacy, and the Serbian genocide from these other authors.
What the author does provide, is incorporating his forty years of experience as a student, and commentator of domestic and international policies. He also ends the book ( I believe published prior to September 11th) with a comment about the government�s pre-occupation with the missile defense system instead of understanding that terrorism is the more likely threat.
For anyone who believes that foreign policy, is as simplistic as a Tom Clancy novel would have you believe, then this is a much needed read. But be aware, that no one comes out looking too good in this very thoughtful story with long term implications for world peace and security.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Superb Investigation Of Foreign Policy & Politics 23 May 2003
By Barron Laycock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who marveled at former journalist David Halberstam's masterful account of the ways in which the personal biographies and contemporary history fatefully intersected to produce the disastrous American incursion into Vietnam in 1970's "The Best And The Brightest", his recent (2001) tome "War In A Time Of Peace" is the long-awaited sequel and companion piece on the ways in which the ghost of our involvement in southeast Asia yet haunts America's role in foreign affairs in the late 20th century. As in the previous work, Halberstam's trademark insights into the ways in which personal ambitions and private agendas fuel and contort the political processes of which American foreign policy is a part make this book memorable and worthwhile. For example, his observation's on former Secretary of State Madeline Albright's arrogant attempt to nation-build in Somalia makes it easier to understand lapses in our policy there that led to the now-famous firefight chronicled so brilliantly in "Blackhawk Down", resulting in several dozen American causalities and hundreds if not thousands of dead and wounded Somalis.
His brilliance is in showing how these individual personalities interact, often clashing based on the existential circumstances they find themselves embroiled in. Thus does Army General Wes Clark find himself embroiled in a very difficult conundrum in the Balkans, facing both an intransigent enemy and an uncertain and indecisive command structure by way of both President Clinton and the Joint Chiefs. One marvels at the ways in which Halberstam entwines the details of the personal biographies of a play card of figures ranging from Clark to Colin Powell to Madeline Albright to Richard Holbrooke to Anthony Lake to James Baker to Dick Cheney with the cross-cutting issues and circumstances that eventually come to comprise contemporary history.
In so doing he brings history to life, making its study both more interesting and more relevant, showing how particular individuals and their own personal political, philosophical, and social baggage and predispositions animate the interactions at the government's highest levels. Sadly, it also chronicles how petty, venial, and subjective such decision-making can be, as in Albright's arrogantly misguided decision to try to force a motley collection of feudal Somali warlords into experimenting with democracy. What makes all of this even more interesting and more intriguing is how he then overlays the ways in which many of the chief players and architects of the American foreign policy decisions in the Balkans were affected by their roles in the war in Vietnam, whether it be as a calculating conscientious objector like Bill Clinton, a government official like Anthony Lake, or a then young Captain and Lt. Colonel by the name of Colin Powell.
In this fashion we come to see the lingering impact the war in Vietnam had in shaping and propelling the course of events in the 1990s. Indeed, the shattering affect the war had on both the Defense Department and the State Department and the kinds of men and women that came to administer and manage them can be seen in the quixotic unfolding of American foreign policy as it meandered aimlessly from position to position over the intervening decades without any seeming central focus or evident grand strategy. Thus, over the smoldering coals of the memories of the American defeat in Vietnam, the foreign policy of the American government circled cautiously around the perimeters of meaningful involvement, desperate to avoid any commitment that might draw it into another inconclusive and unpopular ground war, even when confronted with the sensational and melodramatic facts of another holocaust being systematically conducted by the Bosnian Serbs on the ground in the Balkans. This is a wonderful book, a book superbly researched, documented, and written, and it is certainly one I can highly recommend for students of contemporary history. Enjoy!
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Incredible Timing; Incredible Content. 3 Oct. 2001
By R. Shaff - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First, Dave Halberstam is a very talented storyteller. Even as non-fiction has a tendency to drone, Halberstam makes reading non-fiction fun, brings it to life. Previously, Halberstam was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for reporting the events as they transpired in Vietnam. He then went on to a national best-seller with "The Best and the Brightest," an expose of sorts on the men behind the Vietnam War along with an insightful analysis of their plans, schemes and decisions. "War in a Time of Peace" follows in the footsteps of these achievements.
In "War in a Time of Peace," Halberstam examines U.S. foreign policy in the post-cold war world. The book throws the reader into the Gulf War time frame and jumps into the incessant yet poignant problems facing the U.S. in a slew of third world countries. In only the way Halberstam can, he relates the story behind the media proclamations showing how events in the Balkans, Somalia, and Haiti reflect American politics and foreign policy.
An incredibly timely and piercing book, "War in a Time of Peace" features important and insightful thumbnail sketches of key political figures including Bill Clinton, George H. Bush, Dick Cheney and many others. Unlike other authors however, Halberstam leads us into the interaction between the powers, the brains behind the power and ostensibly, the true skinny behind the scenes.
A must read in my opinion.
51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read! 17 Sept. 2001
By Sheila M. Messina - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In light of this past week this book is a must read. The author may be focussing on another time and area struggles, but I cannot help but feel that it all plays into what has just occurred. This book is a "page turner", well written and I come away believing that I have a much better understanding of the various elements that are influencing our life today.
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