“From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776” by George C Herring, book 8 of 12 in “Oxford History of the United States” series

Published 2008, with a second edition was published in 2018.

We keep listening to the Oxford History of the United States. So much to learn! These books hold my interest. Often I feel I should take notes, but it’s inconvenient in the car. So I remembers bits and pieces…

This volume covered the Reagan years (1981 – 1989), when I ignored a great deal of news due to parenting and related challenges. And so much of what happened wasn’t IN the news. Whew! Reagan and his administration did a great deal that what questionable, unethical or outright illegal. The “Iran-Contra affair” has its own, extensive Wikipedia entry, including a long list of indictments. George H W Bush was tainted, and would probably not have been elected President if he hadn’t lied so convincingly.

What else? Reagan is given credit for “ending the Cold War”. Herring feels the record is somewhat different. Most interesting is the discussion of Reagan’s relationship to Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan hated nuclear weapons and feared nuclear war. Gorbachev wanted to shift the Soviet Union away from Marxism towards social democracy. Together, they changed the world, sometimes in ways they didn’t expect.

So these long and ponderous looking Oxford History books are, in fact, good listening and good background for understanding these, our very crazy times.


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