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Details on Poland's role in Cold War might overwhelm casual reader


This is the cover of "Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War" by Gregory F. Domber. The book is reviewed by Brian Welter. (CNS)

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"Empowering Revolution: America, Poland and the End of the Cold War" by Gregory F. Domber. University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2014). 392 pp., $39.95.

"Empowering Revolution" gives readers a clear sense of the Cold War's strongly moralistic character.

While the Reagan administration had a focused ideological and ethical sense of the political matter, so did the Polish communist leadership, something we in the West might not realize. They too framed their policies in terms of good and bad. Martial law, for instance, was seen as the lesser of two evils, the greater misery being a Soviet-led military invasion.

Author Gregory Domber reminds us of the Brezhnev doctrine, "fraternal socialist assistance," exemplified by the 1968 military intervention in what was then Czechoslovakia, and of Moscow's intimidation of Warsaw right up until the Gorbachev era. Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski found himself between a rock and a hard place, as he had to appease the Soviets yet needed Western financing for economic revitalization.

This brings up a strength of Domber: While Jaruzelski has often played the role of dictator in the mainstream media's imagination, the author depicts him as neither simplistically autocratic nor weak, but as assertive of Poland's rights, someone who directly told the Americans that he didn't like his nation being a pawn in the superpower struggles.

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