Life. Who knew I’d be sitting here writing largely about contentious Canadian social issues? At one point, not too long ago, I wanted to be a foreign affairs guru, yes, guru, or perhaps an academic: get a PhD in German history and teach.
Clearly I’m not doing that, but I always read German history with interest.
So I might pick up this book, The year that changed the world, the untold story behind the fall of the Berlin Wall:
The good historian is a myth buster. Michael Meyer is a very good historian. As Newsweek’s bureau chief for Eastern Europe in 1989, he watched the world turn on a dime. The myth he busts in this book concerns the contribution the United States made to the collapse of communist regimes that year. Some Americans want to believe that those regimes crumbled because of White House manipulation — clever diplomacy backed by raw power. In fact, American meddling was rather benign and, during that fateful year, conspicuously ill conceived.
Good historians are myth busters where myths need busting. Otherwise, good historians read primary sources and eye witness accounts and do vast amounts of archival research to tell the story of what happened. There is no need to denigrate the role of Ronald Reagan or the United States in bringing down the Berlin Wall, and that story line is not at odds with the rest of what the review describes. Certainly the thousands of people on the ground played a critical role, certainly the Soviet Union collapsed because it was bankrupt… Few to none think that Reagan’s rhetoric alone brought the wall down (myth creation so that then a clever reporter can bust it?) but many Eastern Europeans (in particular those who already escaped and were now living amongst the socialist chattering classes in downtown Toronto) found it truthful and inspiring that someone like Reagan would speak out against The Evil Empire.
My two cents, anyway.