Operation Rollback: America's Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain

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9780395516065: Operation Rollback: America's Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain

After the collapse of Nazi power in 1945, a sweeping change occurred in international relations that would transform the landscape of world politics for the next half-century. Uneasy allies in the war against Germany, the United States and the Soviet Union started secretly mobilizing forces against each other, building intricate networks of spies and digging in for the postwar era.
America's secret action plan was known as Rollback, an audacious strategy of espionage, subversion, and sabotage to foment insurrection in the Soviet satellite countries. The architect of the plan, an enigmatic American diplomat first known to the world under the pseudonym "X," publicly advocated an effort to "contain" communism. But following his legendary Long Telegram, Mr. X -- George Kennan -- devised a program of active confrontation with the Soviets through covert action. Within the secret councils of the Truman administration, hidden from the public as well as from most of the government, Kennan and his colleagues set in motion a series of daring and dramatic, though ultimately failed, secret missions behind the Iron Curtain.
Concealed by all sides for four decades, the dangerous episodes of the Rollback campaign have only now come to light. Peter Grose here untangles the extraordinary, little-known story for the first time, artfully reconstructing a hidden history of intrigue and tragic obsession, of secret plots and larger-than-life personalities. Operation Rollback reveals how and why suspicions and recriminations on both sides drove the world into the Cold War.

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Review :

The early years of the cold war were marked by America's so-called containment strategy, which meant, in short, keeping Communism penned within its existing borders. Former New York Times reporter Peter Grose, however, suggests that this was merely window-dressing. In Operation Rollback, he writes:

Even as containment was being scorned as appeasement and timidity in the first months of 1948, a high-level staff within the State Department was devising a remarkable initiative to confront communism aggressively through clandestine action. The secret program would start with innocuous propaganda and persuasion, then proceed directly into sabotage, subversion, and paramilitary engagement.
This book is a history of that effort, kept under wraps until recently, says Grose, because both sides had a motive to avoid the publicity: the Soviets didn't want to acknowledge resistance movements inside their client states, and the Americans refused to admit their failure. Grose writes that the rollback was never revealed to Congress and that public monies didn't even pay for it; funding came from a secret account maintained by the Treasury Department and linked to Marshall Plan repayments. Operation Rollback is a groundbreaking work of cold-war history, and an engaging one to read. --John J. Miller

About the Author :

Peter Grose is the author of the critically acclaimed GENTLEMAN SPY: THE LIFE OF ALLEN DULLES. A long-time foreign and diplomatic correspondent for the NEW YORK TIMES, then an executive editor of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, he is now a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He resides in Massachusetts.

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