Democrats were responsible for winning the Cold War.
Now, before you say I've flipped, let me name the Democrats: Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams and Max Kampelman.
And, oh, yes, Ronald Wilson Reagan, a one-time Democrat who turned to the GOP in the 1950s.
Perhaps the primary point of Jay Winik's masterful book about the end of the Cold War is that the most important defectors were not Russian spies or diplomats, but anti-communist Democrat intellectuals, driven from their party by its anti-defense posture.
Those Democrats were wooed by Reagan and Bill Casey, but that did not mean the Republican establishment welcomed them with open arms. In fact, once they made the change, their former party's opposition to them was the least of their worries.
Kirkpatrick, Perle, Abrams and Kampelman shared Reagan's vision that the Soviet Union was beatable. In this radical departure from the Carter policy, they stood against such establishment Republicans as George Bush, Henry Kissinger and James Baker, who believed that talking and containment were the only goal.
Other foes included the foreign policy establishment, which wanted signed agreements at any cost, and a hysterical press, which vilified them as fanatics about to ignite a nuclear war at any second (and which, once the Cold War was over, said there had never been any real threat, anyway).
The mentor of these four defectors was Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, D-Wash., whose office provided the backbone of the anti-communists in the Democratic Party, particularly Perle.
It was Perle who made the amazing prediction that the Soviet Union would fall apart by the late 1980s and who was afraid what would happen if the United States did not have absolute military superiority at that time. This made him anathema among Democrats.
The dramatic high points of "On the Brink" are two summits that Winik suggests changed history.
The first, surprisingly enough, was a little-known meeting between Jimmy Carter and a group of Democrat moderates known as the Committee for a Democratic Majority. Mostly consisting of defense hawks, this group was invited to the White House in 1980 only to be snubbed by Carter.
This was the final straw for Kirkpatrick, Perle, Abrams and Kampelman, who went on to be the foot soldiers for the Reagan Doctrine.
Kirkpatrick became ambassador to the United Nations and challenged the Soviets rhetorically in the world arena.
Perle fashioned the arms control proposals that put the pressure on the Soviet economy.
Abrams became the leading State Department official attacking Soviet intrusion into Central America, and Kampelman carried the ball in negotiations.
The result of this full-court press was the Reykjavik Summit, where it was Reagan's turn to finish the play.
Contrary to shoddy journalism that portrays Reagan as sleepwalking through the '80s, Winik shows in telling detail how Reagan took charge at Reykjavik and made Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev cry uncle.
Winik provides inside stories of fierce, but not always partisan, wrangling inside the government, all-but-traitorous actions on the part of nuclear freeze advocates and glimpses of the people who make the news that goes beyond their carefully cultivated public persona.
He also reports that many of those who formed the failed Carter policies or made Chicken Little claims about Reagan's administration are now firmly ensconced in the Clinton administration.
Winik leaves no doubt that two developments that drove the liberals and the media nuts - the deployment of Pershing missiles in the face of the nuclear freeze movement and the threatened development of the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense system - drove the Soviets to the bargaining table.
"On the Brink" is written in a novelistic style that is fresh and immediate. It is history-as-storytelling reminiscent of the narratives of Cornelius Ryan and David Halberstam.
It is, at times, as suspenseful as any Tom Clancy thriller and more compelling.