David Horowitz ed.: Containment and Revolution: Western Policy Towards Social Revolution, 1917 to Vietnam (Studies in Imperialism and the Cold War No 1), Anthony Blond, 35s. hardback 15s. paperback.
This is the first volume of a welcome series on imperialism and the Cold War, a period whose history the editor rightly notes in his introduction drastically needs rewriting, and must be rewritten by the Left. Not only has the epoch itself been very much the prerogative of conservative writers, but the mentality of the period has given its name to a whole generation of falsifiers and ideologues, collectively known as ‘cold war historians’. Moreover, it is a truism that left-wing intellectuals in particular are extremely weak on their history. How can events in Greece be understood without a real knowledge of the history of the ‘forties? (admirably presented by Todd Gitlin). How many people remember in detail the continuous hostility of all the western countries to the Soviet Union right from the very start? (minutely chronicled by William Appleman Williams: American Intervention in Russia: 1917—20). Who knows anything about the recent history of China? (John Gittings: The Origins of China’s Foreign Policy). Or the internal nature of the Vietnamese Revolution? (Richard Morrock: Revolution and Intervention in Vietnam). The areas of historical ignorance go much wider, and it is to be hoped that the series will continue to encroach on further terrain. Of one hundred admirers and denigrators of Gaullism, it is unlikely that one could give a coherent account of the movement’s history or the ideological trajectory of its leader.
The volume has a balanced mix of area studies (four) and more general essays—Isaac Deutscher on The Myths of the Cold War (a revised version of a speech at the Berkeley Teach-in on Vietnam in May 1965); John Bagguley on The World War and the Cold War, an excellent analysis of the relationship between post-war policies and wartime strategy; and finally a brief essay on Senator Taft’s Critique of Containment. This volume is a rare event: a political book about modern history by radical authors for radical readers.