REVIEW: “The Untold History of the United States”

By Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick.

Well, I should first of all begin by informing you that the book most certainly lives up to its title. Stone and Kuznick have covered key events in America’s recent history, shedding light on undisclosed truths that remained hidden for years. I found as a history student the book to be both worrying and enlightening, partly because of its analysis of the sheer power the United States has in the contemporary world but also because of its disclosure of often unjust U.S intervention across the seven continents. I think if you do have a fondness for history, specifically modern history of the last century running until the present day, this book is definitely worth a read.

The book roughly documents America’s progression running from the First World War up until the presidency of Barack Obama, with the chapters roughly correlating to each President. I found myself particularly engrossed in the chapters relating to the Cold War, however, and the relationship between the U.S and USSR which I had always assumed to be of mutual aggression. The book suggests otherwise. I was astounded to discover the efforts of Mikhail Gorbachev, who as a Soviet reformer, sought to secure the eradication of nuclear weapons entirely in the East and West with a vast disarmament initiative, as well as improving relations with the U.S and building economic ties; the reluctance of Ronald Reagan to completely absolve possession of America’s nuclear arsenal thwarted what could have been a catalyst in Russian and Western relations, and in the nature of global nuclear development.

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I was equally astonished by the operations of the CIA in Latin America which overthrew governments with the slightest socialist undertone; these operations were given enigmatic support from American politicians of the period, yet they were repeatedly undertaken in the most strict and secretive manner in order to avoid international scrutiny. The more commonly remembered attempt to topple Castro’s regime was not an isolated case; the toppling of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 was preceded in 1954 with the overthrow of Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz and also the installation of a military regime in Brazil in 1964 which aligned itself closely with the U.S

The book also provides an in depth coverage of America’s involvement in momentous events of the past century: the League of Nations, Mc Carthyism, Korea, Vietnam, and more recently the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. These latter two events made up the closing chapters of the book which stimulated me to write this review, seemingly because of the blatancy of American imperialism; George W. Bush’s absolute insistence on finding a legitimise cause to invade Iraq led to the manufacturing of false information concerning Saddam’s nuclear capability, which was preceded by the equally tenuous suggestion that Saddam actually orchestrated 9/11.

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Now, the book is itself described as ‘Indispensable’ by the late Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev which may raise concerns over its impartiality seeing as the Cold War is such a critical aspect of U.S history. Having said that, however, the evidence and scope of the book is indeed profound and despite its length (650 pages approx) I remained completely engrossed in it from start to finish.

****

If my short review has inspired you to go and buy the book, I’d be keen to hear how you received it or even if you have read it previously, please do share your opinions!

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