Michael R. Beschloss


Beschloss, Michael R. The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Surveillant 1.6 notes that Beschloss focuses primarily on "the 1961 summit conference on Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962." This work "provides a fine account of the behind-the-scenes maneuvers," contains "superb portraits of KGB agents and heads of state," and is "splendidly written. This is one not to miss."

[GenPostwar/60s/MissileCrisis; Russia][c]

Beschloss, Michael R. May-Day: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Incident. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

Petersen sees May-Day as a "scholarly treatment that concentrates on the political and diplomatic dimensions of the incident." According to Winks, IJI&C 1.3, Beschloss presents a "closely-researched, intelligent account of the impact of the U-2 affair on Soviet-American relations in the 1960s.... [O]n the political front Beschloss deserves a clear 'A,'... [b]ut in science the book rates a gentlemen's 'C'.... Lawrence R. Houston ... has criticized Beschloss for getting his facts wrong about the cameras carried aboard the U-2, and for exaggerating the fragility and instability of the aircraft (Periscope: Journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, XI [Summer, 1986], 11)."


Beschloss, Michael R., and Strobe Talbott. At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.

Surveillant 3.1 notes that the authors "received cooperation of American and Soviet officials 'at the highest levels.'" This is "judgmental not descriptive history.... [It] closely examines the personal relationships developed among the leaders and their staffs." There are "no endnotes.... [A]ll source material is 'under time seal.'" Therefore, we "must accept their word," a situation that "comes closer to arrogant Woodwardian journalism than history."

CIRA Newsletter 18.2 cites Studies in Intelligence for the opinion that At the Highest Levels is "utterly fascinating reading for scholars and history buffs." The authors are an "exceptionally able team" and they deliver a "fast-paced volume of access-journalism-at-the-top." They "suggest that Bush and Baker fumbled at the critical time." Although it "shows signs of obviously hasty preparation and editing," this book is "correctly described as an insider's account and a stunning achievement."

For Hoffmann, WPNWE, 8-14 Mar. 1993, the work is "utterly fascinating ... because it tells, with a minimum of editorializing...[,] the grand story of a close and difficult relationship, between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.... The book's only flaw is its concentration on the superpowers. They were not the only players in that period."


Return to Bes-Bez