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About the Author

David Reynolds, FBA, is Professor of International History at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Christ's College. He has held visiting positions at Harvard and at Nihon University in Tokyo. He is the author or editor of ten books on aspects of twentieth-century history, including One World Divisible: A Global History since 1945 (2000) and In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (2004) which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize. Both of these books are available as Penguin paperbacks. Summits is linked to a BBC TV series written and presented by David Reynolds.


Reynolds (international history, Cambridge Univ.) chooses to use the summits between world leaders as hooks for his take on 20th-century history. He is treading the same ground covered in Jonathan Fenby's recent Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin & Churchill Won One War & Began Another. Reynolds's angle is to concentrate on the essential facets of summitry: the face-to-face meeting and the give-and-take among world leaders. He examines at great length the summits that took place during World War II among Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt. Other summits he covers are among Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, and Pope Gregory VII; between Kennedy and Khrushchev; and between George W. Bush and Tony Blair. He provides detailed information, drawing in part from newly opened Soviet archives, to give readers historical context, explaining the events surrounding each summit and the dynamics of each conference. A fascinating look at historical events through this particular lens, his book is recommended for academic and public libraries.--Harry Willems, Park City P.L., KS Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

John F. Kennedy opined that nations in conflict would do better to "meet at the summit than at the brink." Reynolds had the intriguing idea of examining the conflicts of the 20th century through the lens of its pivotal summit meetings. Given his Cambridge professorship and eight books on WWII and the Cold War (Command of History), the author's thorough mastery of his subject is reflected in the fluency and assurance of the writing. As he explains, many summits have been vitiated by misplaced trust: at Munich in 1938, Chamberlain believed Hitler would keep his word on Czechoslovakia. In Reynolds's view, Kennedy and Khrushchev failed at Vienna in 1961 in nearly all respects, and their failure had consequences, including Khrushchev's belligerence-and ultimate humiliation-in the Cuban missile crisis. In 1985, Reagan and Gorbachev held what the author believes was the most successful summit of all, a result of careful preparation and the old-fashioned, behind-the-scenes diplomacy of George Shultz. The Camp David summit with Sadat, Carter and Begin, in this account, rivals Munich for sheer drama. The stories of these summits (plus the post-WWII Yalta conference and Nixon/Brezhnev in 1972) reveal the calculation, bluff, mutual incomprehension and good intentions that make meetings at the top risky and, occasionally, productive. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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