The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991

Oxford University Press
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For half of the twentieth century, the Cold War gripped the world. International relations everywhere--and domestic policy in scores of nations--pivoted around this central point, the American-Soviet rivalry. Even today, much of the world's diplomacy grapples with chaos created by the Cold War's sudden disappearance. Here indeed is a subject that defies easy understanding. Now comes a definitive account, a startlingly fresh, clear eyed, comprehensive history of our century's longest struggle. In The Cold War, Ronald E. Powaski offers a new perspective on the great rivalry, even as he provides a coherent, concise narrative. He wastes no time in challenging the reader to think of the Cold War in new ways, arguing that the roots of the conflict are centuries old, going back to Czarist Russia and to the very infancy of the American nation. He shows that both Russia and America were expansionist nations with messianic complexes, and the people of both nations believed they possessed a unique mission in history. Except for a brief interval in 1917, Americans perceived the Russian government (whether Czarist or Bolshevik) as despotic; Russians saw the United States as conspiring to prevent it from reaching its place in the sun. U.S. military intervention in Russia's civil war, with the aim of overthrowing Lenin's upstart regime, entrenched Moscow's fears. Soviet American relations, difficult before World War II--when both nations were relatively weak militarily and isolated from world affairs--escalated dramatically after both nations emerged as the world's major military powers. Powaski paints a portrait of the spiraling tensions with stark clarity, as each new development added to the rivalry: the Marshall Plan, the communist coup in Czechoslovakia, the Berlin blockade, the formation of NATO, the first Soviet nuclear test. In this atmosphere, Truman found it easy to believe that the Communist victory in China and the Korean War were products of Soviet expansionism. He and his successors extended their own web of mutual defense treaties, covert actions, and military interventions across the globe--from the Caribbean to the Middle East and, finally to Southeast Asia, where containment famously foundered in the bog of Vietnam. Powaski skillfully highlights the domestic politics, diplomatic maneuvers, and even psychological factors as he untangles the knot that bound the two superpowers together in conflict. From the nuclear arms race, to the impact of U.S. recognition of China on detente, to Brezhnev's inflexible persistence in competing with America everywhere, he casts new light on familiar topics. Always judicious in his assessments, Powaski gives due credit to Reagan and especially Bush in facilitating the Soviet collapse, but also notes that internal economic failure, not outside pressure, proved decisive in the Communist failure. Perhaps most important, he offers a clear eyed assessment of the lasting distortions the struggle wrought upon American institutions, raising questions about whether anyone really won the Cold War. With clarity, fairness, and insight, he offers the definitive account of our century's longest international rivalry.
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About the author

Ronald E. Powaski is the author of March to Armegeddon: The United States and the Nuclear Arms Race, 1939 to the Present. He is Adjunct Professor of Special Studies at Notre Dame College of Ohio.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Sep 25, 1997
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780199879588
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Political Science / International Relations / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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A critical issue in the origins of the Cold War—the development of Soviet—American conflict over Eastern Europe from 1941 to 1945—is the subject of Lynn Etheridge Davis's book. Disagreeing with those writers who argue that conflict arose from the determination of the United States to obtain economic markets in Europe or from imprecise assessments of Soviet security interests, the author describes how the United States made an initial commitment to the Atlantic Charter principles in 1941, then continued to promote the creation of representative governments in Eastern Europe without clearly identifying American interests or foreseeing the consequences of these actions.

Using recently released documents of the Departments of State and War, Professor Davis explains how the views of U.S. officials on postwar peace precluded approval of Soviet efforts to establish a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe through the imposition of Communist regimes. She describes how American officials interpreted Soviet actions as intent to expand into Western Europe and how the subsequent undermining of Allied cooperation around the world led to the Cold War.

Originally published in 1974.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

In September 1952, John Lukacs, then a young and unknown historian, wrote George Kennan (1904-2005), the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, asking one of the nation's best-known diplomats what he thought of Lukacs's own views on Kennan's widely debated idea of containing rather than militarily confronting the Soviet Union. A month later, to Lukacs's surprise, he received a personal reply from Kennan.

So began an exchange of letters that would continue for more than fifty years. Lukacs would go on to become one of America's most distinguished and prolific diplomatic historians, while Kennan, who would retire from public life to begin a new career as Pulitzer Prize-winning author, would become revered as the man whose strategy of containment led to a peaceful end to the Cold War. Their letters, collected here for the first time, capture the writing and thinking of two of the country's most important voices on America's role and place in world affairs. From the division of Europe into East and West after World War II to its unification as the Soviet Union disintegrated, and from the war in Vietnam to the threat of nuclear annihilation and the fate of democracy in America and the world, this book provides an insider's tour of the issues and pivotal events that defined the Cold War.

The correspondence also charts the growth and development of an intellectual and personal friendship that was intense, devoted, and honest. As Kennan later wrote Lukacs in letter, "perceptive, understanding, and constructive criticism is . . . as I see it, in itself a form of creative philosophical thought." It is a belief to which both men subscribed and that they both practiced.

Presented with an introduction by Lukacs, the letters in Through the History of the Cold War reveal new dimensions to Kennan's thinking about America and its future, and illuminate the political—and spiritual—philosophies that the two authors shared as they wrote about a world transformed by war and by the clash of ideologies that defined the twentieth century.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All
 
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With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”

Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”
The Cold War ended with an exhilarating wave of events: the toppling of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the dissident poet Vaclav Havel, the revolution in Romania. Americans rejoiced at the dramatic conclusion of the long struggle. "But victories in wars--hot or cold--tend to unfocus the mind," writes John Gaddis. "It can be a dangerous thing to have achieved one's objectives, because one then has to decide what to do next." In The United States and the End of the Cold War, Gaddis provides a sharp focus on the long history of the Cold War, shedding new light on its sudden ending, as well as on what might come next. In this provocative, insightful book, Gaddis offers a number of thoughtful essays on the history of international relations during the last half century. His reassessments of important figures and themes from the Cold War are sometimes surprising. For example, he portrays John Foster Dulles and Ronald Reagan as far more flexible and perceptive statesmen than the missile-toting caricatures depicted in editorial cartoons. And he takes a second look at the importance of espionage and intelligence in Cold War history, a field often left to buffs and spy novelists. Most important, he focuses on the central elements in superpower relations. In an eloquent account of the American style of foreign policy in the twentieth century, for instance, he explores how Americans (having learned the lesson of Adolf Hitler) consistently equated the forms of foreign governments with their external behavior, assuming that authoritarian states would be aggressive states. He also analyzes the "tectonics" of Cold War history, demonstrating how long term changes in international affairs and Soviet bloc countries built up pressures that led to the sudden earthquakes of 1989. And along the way, Gaddis illuminates such topics as the role of morality in American foreign policy, the relevance of nuclear weapons to the balance of power, and the objectives of containment. He even includes (and criticizes) an essay entitled, "How the Cold War Might End," written before the dramatic events of recent years, to demonstrate how quickly the tide of history can overwhelm contemporary analysis. Gaddis concludes with a thoughtful consideration of the problems and forces at work in the post-Cold War world. Author of such works as The Long Peace and Strategies of Containment, John Lewis Gaddis is one of the leading authorities on postwar American foreign policy. In these perceptive, highly readable essays, he provides a fresh assessment of the evolution of the Cold War, and insight into the shape of things to come.
When the Cold War ended, the world let out a collective sigh of relief as the fear of nuclear confrontation between superpowers appeared to vanish overnight. As we approach the new millennium, however, the proliferation of nuclear weapons to ever more belligerent countries and factions raises alarming new concerns about the threat of nuclear war. In Return to Armageddon, Ronald Powaski assesses the dangers that beset us as we enter an increasingly unstable political world. With the START I and II treaties, completed by George Bush in 1991 and 1993 respectively, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, it seemed as if the nuclear clock had been successfully turned back to a safer hour. But Powaski shows that there is much less reason for optimism than we may like to think. Continued U.S.-Russian cooperation can no longer be assured. To make matters worse, Russia has not ratified the START II Treaty and the U.S. Senate has failed to approve the CTBT. Perhaps even more ominously, the effort to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by nonweapon states is threatened by nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. The nuclear club is growing and its most recent members are increasingly hostile. Indeed, it is becoming ever more difficult to keep track of the expertise and material needed to build nuclear weapons, which almost certainly will find their way into terrorist hands. Accessible, authoritative, and provocative, Return to Armageddon provides both a comprehensive account of the arms control process and a startling reappraisal of the nuclear threat that refuses to go away.
2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Finalist

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Journalist Adam Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster—and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers its citizens and the entire world. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda, and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently-declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative which brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it firsthand. The result is a masterful nonfiction thriller, and the definitive account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth.

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