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The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy

by Strobe Talbott

PUBLISHED: 13th May 2003
ISBN: 9780812968460
ANNOTATION:
During the past ten years, few issues have mattered more to America's vital interests or to the shape of the twenty-first century than Russia's fate. To cheer the fall of a bankrupt totalitarian regime is one thing; to build on its ruins a stable democratic state is quite another. The challenge of helping to steer post-Soviet Russia-with its thousands of nuclear weapons and seething ethnic tensions-between the Scylla of a communist restoration and the Charybdis of anarchy fell to the former governor of a poor, landlocked Southern state who had won national election by focusing on domestic issues. No one could have predicted that by the end of Bill Clinton's second term he would meet with his Kremlin counterparts more often than had all of his predecessors from Harry Truman to George Bush combined, or that his presidency and his legacy would be so determined by his need to be his own Russia hand. With Bill Clinton at every step was Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state whose expertise was the former Soviet Union. Talbott was Clinton's old friend, one of his most trusted advisers, a frequent envoy on the most sensitive of diplomatic missions and, as this book shows, a sharp-eyed observer. The Russia Hand is without question among the most candid, intimate and illuminating foreign-policy memoirs ever written in the long history of such books. It offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of policymaking and diplomacy alike. With the scope of nearly a decade, it reveals the hidden play of personalities and the closed-door meetings that shaped the most crucial events of our time, from NATO expansion, missile defense and the Balkan wars to coping with Russia'snear-meltdown in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. The book is dominated by two gifted, charismatic and flawed men, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, who quickly formed one of the most intense and consequential bonds in the annals of statecraft. It also sheds new light on Vladimir Putin, as well as the altered landscape after September 11, 2001. The Russia Hand is the first great memoir about war and peace in the post-cold war world. "From the Hardcover edition.
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OTHER FORMATS:
PUBLISHED: 13th May 2003
ISBN: 9780812968460
ANNOTATION:
During the past ten years, few issues have mattered more to America's vital interests or to the shape of the twenty-first century than Russia's fate. To cheer the fall of a bankrupt totalitarian regime is one thing; to build on its ruins a stable democratic state is quite another. The challenge of helping to steer post-Soviet Russia-with its thousands of nuclear weapons and seething ethnic tensions-between the Scylla of a communist restoration and the Charybdis of anarchy fell to the former governor of a poor, landlocked Southern state who had won national election by focusing on domestic issues. No one could have predicted that by the end of Bill Clinton's second term he would meet with his Kremlin counterparts more often than had all of his predecessors from Harry Truman to George Bush combined, or that his presidency and his legacy would be so determined by his need to be his own Russia hand. With Bill Clinton at every step was Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state whose expertise was the former Soviet Union. Talbott was Clinton's old friend, one of his most trusted advisers, a frequent envoy on the most sensitive of diplomatic missions and, as this book shows, a sharp-eyed observer. The Russia Hand is without question among the most candid, intimate and illuminating foreign-policy memoirs ever written in the long history of such books. It offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of policymaking and diplomacy alike. With the scope of nearly a decade, it reveals the hidden play of personalities and the closed-door meetings that shaped the most crucial events of our time, from NATO expansion, missile defense and the Balkan wars to coping with Russia'snear-meltdown in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. The book is dominated by two gifted, charismatic and flawed men, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, who quickly formed one of the most intense and consequential bonds in the annals of statecraft. It also sheds new light on Vladimir Putin, as well as the altered landscape after September 11, 2001. The Russia Hand is the first great memoir about war and peace in the post-cold war world. "From the Hardcover edition.

Annotation

During the past ten years, few issues have mattered more to America's vital interests or to the shape of the twenty-first century than Russia's fate. To cheer the fall of a bankrupt totalitarian regime is one thing; to build on its ruins a stable democratic state is quite another. The challenge of helping to steer post-Soviet Russia-with its thousands of nuclear weapons and seething ethnic tensions-between the Scylla of a communist restoration and the Charybdis of anarchy fell to the former governor of a poor, landlocked Southern state who had won national election by focusing on domestic issues. No one could have predicted that by the end of Bill Clinton's second term he would meet with his Kremlin counterparts more often than had all of his predecessors from Harry Truman to George Bush combined, or that his presidency and his legacy would be so determined by his need to be his own Russia hand. With Bill Clinton at every step was Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state whose expertise was the former Soviet Union. Talbott was Clinton's old friend, one of his most trusted advisers, a frequent envoy on the most sensitive of diplomatic missions and, as this book shows, a sharp-eyed observer. The Russia Hand is without question among the most candid, intimate and illuminating foreign-policy memoirs ever written in the long history of such books. It offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of policymaking and diplomacy alike. With the scope of nearly a decade, it reveals the hidden play of personalities and the closed-door meetings that shaped the most crucial events of our time, from NATO expansion, missile defense and the Balkan wars to coping with Russia'snear-meltdown in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. The book is dominated by two gifted, charismatic and flawed men, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, who quickly formed one of the most intense and consequential bonds in the annals of statecraft. It also sheds new light on Vladimir Putin, as well as the altered landscape after September 11, 2001. The Russia Hand is the first great memoir about war and peace in the post-cold war world.

"From the Hardcover edition.

Publisher Description

During the past ten years, few issues have mattered more to America's vital interests or to the shape of the twenty-first century than Russia's fate. To cheer the fall of a bankrupt totalitarian regime is one thing; to build on its ruins a stable democratic state is quite another. The challenge of helping to steer post-Soviet Russia-with its thousands of nuclear weapons and seething ethnic tensions-between the Scylla of a communist restoration and the Charybdis of anarchy fell to the former governor of a poor, landlocked Southern state who had won national election by focusing on domestic issues. No one could have predicted that by the end of Bill Clinton's second term he would meet with his Kremlin counterparts more often than had all of his predecessors from Harry Truman to George Bush combined, or that his presidency and his legacy would be so determined by his need to be his own Russia hand. With Bill Clinton at every step was Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state whose expertise was the former Soviet Union. Talbott was Clinton's old friend, one of his most trusted advisers, a frequent envoy on the most sensitive of diplomatic missions and, as this book shows, a sharp-eyed observer. The Russia Hand is without question among the most candid, intimate and illuminating foreign-policy memoirs ever written in the long history of such books. It offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of policymaking and diplomacy alike. With the scope of nearly a decade, it reveals the hidden play of personalities and the closed-door meetings that shaped the most crucial events of our time, from NATO expansion, missile defense and the Balkan wars to coping with Russia's near-meltdown in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. The book is dominated by two gifted, charismatic and flawed men, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, who quickly formed one of the most intense and consequential bonds in the annals of statecraft. It also sheds new light on Vladimir Putin, as well as the altered landscape after September 11, 2001. The Russia Hand is the first great memoir about war and peace in the post-cold war world.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Author Biography

Strobe Talbott was the architect of the Clinton administration's policy toward Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union. He served as deputy secretary of state for even years. A former "Time" magazine columnist and Washington bureau chief, he is the translator-editor of Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs and the author of six books on U.S.-Soviet relations. He is now director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Review

"Once again Strobe Talbott has written an important and insightful diplomatic history. This richly crafted book, the first authoritative inside account of President Clinton's personal diplomacy with Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, could have been written only by Talbott, with his reporter's eye for the telling anecdote, his deep knowledge of Russia, his intimate personal involvement in the events he describes, and his central role as Clinton's 'go-to-guy' on Russia policy. The portraits of Clinton, Yeltsin and others, as well as the blow-by-blow account of the roller coaster Russian-American relationship in the Clinton years, ensure that The Russia Hand will be a sourcebook for future historians." --Hedrick L. Smith "The Russia Hand is easily one of the best memoirs of Presidential diplomacy ever written. With his great command of history, gift of language, sense of detail, and eight years at the center of American foreign policy-making, Strobe Talbott has brought us a fascinating, often surprising account of an historic and pivotal period. The Russia Hand shows us what a complex and impressive achievement it was for the United States to build a lasting relationship with its old enemy of half a century. When historians begin to assess the Presidency of Bill Clinton, this book will be basic and mandatory reading." --Michael Beschloss

"Fascinating and compelling reading -- this book is at once a serious political science text and a work of high comedy. Strobe Talbott has given us a marvelous window on a rare moment of important and delicate diplomacy between the United States and Russia and, more important, those two most unlikely partners, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin." --David Halberstam

"A unique document, by turns racy, scholarly, personal, and always of our time. We shall not read its like for a long while. An indispensable and generous contribution to contemporary history." --John Le Carre

"Strobe Talbott has written a wonderfully rich and revealing account of the turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Russia during the first post-Cold-War years. Colorful, full of surprises and intimate portraits of the key people involved -- by the man who was at the center of it all -- this book is and will remain essential for any understanding of this critical and even dangerous period." --Elizabeth Drew

"A fascinating portrait of diplomacy as it really works (and sometimes doesn't), written with clarity and grace by a wise man." --Evan Thomas

Review Quote

"Once again Strobe Talbott has written an important and insightful diplomatic history. This richly crafted book, the first authoritative inside account of President Clinton's personal diplomacy with Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, could have been written only by Talbott, with his reporter's eye for the telling anecdote, his deep knowledge of Russia, his intimate personal involvement in the events he describes, and his central role as Clinton's 'go-to-guy' on Russia policy. The portraits of Clinton, Yeltsin and others, as well as the blow-by-blow account of the roller coaster Russian-American relationship in the Clinton years, ensure thatThe Russia Handwill be a sourcebook for future historians." --Hedrick L. Smith "The Russia Handis easily one of the best memoirs of Presidential diplomacy ever written. With his great command of history, gift of language, sense of detail, and eight years at the center of American foreign policy-making, Strobe Talbott has brought us a fascinating, often surprising account of an historic and pivotal period.The Russia Handshows us what a complex and impressive achievement it was for the United States to build a lasting relationship with its old enemy of half a century. When historians begin to assess the Presidency of Bill Clinton, this book will be basic and mandatory reading." --Michael Beschloss "Fascinating and compelling reading -- this book is at once a serious political science text and a work of high comedy. Strobe Talbott has given us a marvelous window on a rare moment of important and delicate diplomacy between the United States and Russia and, more important, those two most unlikely partners, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin." --David Halberstam "A unique document, by turns racy, scholarly, personal, and always of our time. We shall not read its like for a long while. An indispensable and generous contribution to contemporary history." --John Le Carre "Strobe Talbott has written a wonderfully rich and revealing account of the turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Russia during the first post-Cold-War years. Colorful, full of surprises and intimate portraits of the key people involved -- by the man who was at the center of it all -- this book is and will remain essential for any understanding of this critical and even dangerous period." --Elizabeth Drew "A fascinating portrait of diplomacy as it really works (and sometimes doesn't), written with clarity and grace by a wise man." --Evan Thomas From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt from Book

CHAPTER 1 THE HEDGEHOG AND THE BEAR trinculo: A howling monster; a drunken monster! caliban: . . . Freedom, high-day! high-day, freedom! . . . stephano: O brave monster! Lead the way. The Tempest At noon on Monday, June 5, 2000, Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin emerged from the Czar''s Entrance of the Grand Kremlin Palace. While they paused for a moment in the sunshine, I hovered behind them, trying to catch anything of significance that passed between them as they said good-bye. But at this moment, which brought to an end the official portion of Clinton''s fifth and final visit to Moscow as president, the nuances were all in the body language: the burly Clinton looming over the welterweight Putin, the ultimate extrovert still trying to connect with the coolest of customers who just wasn''t buying. As they shook hands one last time, I pocketed my notebook and hustled down the steps to take my place on a jump seat in the rear of the armored Cadillac that had been flown in from Washington for the summit. John Podesta, Clinton''s chief of staff, and Sandy Berger, his national security adviser, were already on the seat behind me, crammed together to leave plenty of room for the president. Once Clinton had settled into place, he looked out at Putin through the thick bullet-proof window, put on his widest grin and gave a jaunty wave. As the limousine pulled away from the curb and sped across the cobblestone courtyard, Clinton slumped back and a pensive look came over his face. Usually he found these events, including the ceremonial sendoffs, exhilarating. Not this time. The talks over the past three days had been inconclusive, not so much because the two leaders had been unable to agree as because Putin had not even tried. Clinton had come to Moscow hoping to make progress toward a number of objectives: reconciling a new American missile-defense program with long-standing arms control treaties; coordinating U.S. and Russian diplomacy in the Balkans; ending Russian military assistance to Iran. Clinton had also registered concern over Putin''s domestic policies, especially the crackdown he''d launched against the leading independent television network, the deals he was cutting with the communists at the expense of reformist parties and the war he was waging in Chechnya. On all these issues, Putin had given Clinton what was calculated to seem a respectful hearing, but Clinton knew a brush-off when he saw one. Missile defense was a complex problem, Putin had said with a mildness of tone that belied the firmness of his message: precipitous American deployment would jeopardize Russia''s interests and provoke a new round of the arms race. As for the targets of his get-tough policy, they were criminals, not champions of democracy and free speech. And Chechnya was a nest of terrorists; America''s own international Public Enemy Number One, Osama bin Laden, had contributed to the infestation there, so the U.S. should be supporting Russia''s campaign against a common enemy. On all these subjects, Putin urged Clinton to rethink American policy and the assumptions on which it was based. Clinton felt patronized. It was no mystery what Putin''s game was: he was waiting for Clinton''s successor to be elected in five months before deciding how to cope with the United States and all its power, its demands and its reproaches. Putin had, in his own studied, cordial and oblique way, put U.S.-Russian relations on hold until Clinton, like Putin''s predeces- sor, Boris Yeltsin, had passed from the scene. Realizing that, Clinton had even more to think about as he headed toward the western outskirts of Moscow, where Yeltsin was now living in retirement. The Cadillac barreled out of the Kremlin through the Borovitsky Gate and took a sharp right turn. The rest of the motorcade, including several vans full of press, tried to follow but was stopped by Russian security police and diverted directly to Vnukovo Airport, south of Moscow, where Air Force One was waiting. With a motorcycle escort, Clinton''s limousine hurtled down the center of the eight-lane artery out of the city he''d first visited thirty years before. Clinton remarked on various landmarks as we sped past: the massive Russian State Library, once named after Lenin, where the presiding presence was now a statue of Dostoyevksy; the glitzy nightclubs, casinos and designer boutiques of the New Arbat, Yeltsin''s biggest restoration project when he was running the city in the late eighties; the Russian White House, which had been, at different times, the scene of Yeltsin''s greatest triumph, the command center of his most implacable enemies and the scene of a spasm of bloodletting from which neither he nor his country had recovered nearly seven years later. As we crossed the river and headed out of the city along Kutuzovsky Prospect, Clinton recalled that it had been the route Napoleon used to march into Moscow with the Grande Arm

Product Details

Author
Strobe Talbott
Short Title
RUSSIA HAND
Publisher
Random House Trade
Language
English
ISBN-10
0812968468
ISBN-13
9780812968460
Media
Book
Format
Paperback
Year
2003
Publication Date
2003-05-31
Country of Publication
United States
Residence
Washington, DC, US
Pages
512
Subtitle
A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy
Audience
General/Trade