This work was designed to establish a sense of history and perspective for the study and teaching of national security. It is also intended to bring a sense of balance to current debates on national security policy. This is accomplished by presenting selected official U.S. documents covering the past thirty years, a careful reading of which not only provides valuable insights into the policy process but also into the meaning of American values. Rather than giving a comprehensive picture, this volume is designed to portray the critical reference points in the periods and events examined, and to identify the attitudes of the times. The book primarily treats the period from 1950 to the mid-1980s, although the first document examined is the National Security Act of 1947. The documents examined cover the national security establishment, new defense policies such as counterinsurgency, the events of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, nuclear strategy, the Reagan "reassertion," and congressional constraints on the executive branch of government. A number of foreign and national security policy references were used as background and guides; these are listed in the Select Bibliography.