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Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, Revised Edition Paperback – September 30, 1994

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Paperback, September 30, 1994
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1226 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; Revised edition (September 30, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815730411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815730415
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 6.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A retired Foreign Service Officer and Brookings fellow dissects Soviet-American relations from 1969 through 1984 to determine just what detente was, why it failed, and whether it has a future. Garthoff's readable analysis treats events, personalities, and concepts in almost ovewhelming but fascinating detail, supported by exhaustive research and spiced by the anecdotes of one who often was there. He proceeds from the position that some combination of cooperation and competition offers a viable means of avoiding nuclear war. He concludes that detente failed because of conflicting understandings of the concept, exacerbated by a marked lack of empathy on both sides. A monumental contribution offering insightful, rarely considered comparisons of Soviet and American perspectives. Essential for academic and large public libraries; highly recommended for most others. James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "ekrav" on May 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I almost feel a twinge of guilt in not giving this superior work a full five stars, as it a wonderful resource for those studying the rise and fall of detente.
Mr. Garthoff offers readers both breadth and depth in his study of superpower politics, bringing insights to the formulation of foreign policy as well as the policy makers themselves. The book goes in depth on every important event in US-USSR relations in the late 1960s through the end of the 1970s, with a particular strength in detailing the arms control negotiations of the period.
The only reservation I have is the particular emphasis on the details of the diplomacy of detente. This substantial work is perhaps not well suited to those who are interested in the broad strokes of Cold War history, but those who want to learn about the nuts and bolts of policy making will be pleased.
On the other hand, Mr. Garthoff handles his treatment of the details in a clear and straight-forward style, with explanations of technical matters written to be understood by both novice and expert historians. From ABMs to Zbignew Brzezinski, Detente and Confrontation explains it all.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Garthoff refutes the theory that the US state just responded to aggressive Soviet moves. He writes, "The Soviets' reaction to the NATO LRTNF [Long-Range Theater Nuclear Forces] decision was thus formed in the context of their belief - self-serving though it may have been - that their own modernization and replacement programs based on the SS-20 missile (and Backfire medium bomber) were consistent with maintaining an existing rough balance between the Soviet Union and the United States, and between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. The United States-led NATO decision was not a response, as claimed, nor a comparable modernization program. It was a major new escalation of the arms race and an attempt, by circumventing SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks], to tip the overall strategic balance as well as the European nuclear balance to the advantage of the United States and NATO." (page 969.)

He also points out that the USSR was not an aggressor on the world stage, contrary to the lies put about by Reagan et al. As he writes, "All the cases of direct coercive use of Soviet military power occurred in its directly adjacent national security zone - Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan (December 1979-February 1989). Each case was unquestionably perceived by the Soviet leaders as strategically defensive and protective against counterrevolutionary challenges, although objectively and analytically the actions were coercive. While the defensive nature of the Soviet action may not have been accepted, the significance of the subjective perceptions of a defensive purpose should not have been neglected in evaluating the question of a Soviet propensity to use force and in predicting whether, where, and when the Soviet Union might again have done so.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By on May 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a bit dry, but it is an invaluable discussion of its subject, Soviet-American diplomacy in the seventies. Garthoff was a diplomat at the time, and his account is based on a wide reading of all availabe sources. Although neither side was as imaginative or informed or as sensitive as they should have been, Garthoff presents a compelling case that the United States was responsible for botching the opportunities for peace in this period. The case is even more compelling because Garthoff is so moderate and quiet in his argument. Much of the debate on detente has been confined to the Republican party, and to those Democrats who supported Republican policy. According to this limited debate, supporters of Ronald Reagan criticized the supporters of Nixon and Kissinger for their unduly idealistic view of a rapprochment with the Soviets. Naturally Nixon and Kissinger argued that their view was the height of realism. A slightly different version of this debate would be held in the Carter administration as national security adviser Zbigniew Brezezinski criticized Secretary of State Cyrus Vance while neoconservatives damned Carter as an appeaser.
With the possible exception of Vance these arguments were wrong from beginning to end. If Nixon and Kissinger ever believed that Russia could be a "normal power," they overreacted and panicked whenever the Soviet Union sought, like a normal power, to expand its influence. Out of spite towards Indira Gandhi and warped realpolitik, Kissinger and Nixon deluded themselves that India, with Soviet encouragement, was going to attack Pakistan while the latter was slaughtering Bangladeshis. In fact the opposite happened (and Pakistan lost).
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Heather on November 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a must have and must own for any history student or history buff. It is detailed and provides a wealth of information for people who are new to the subject or who consider themselves to be "buffs" of the topic as well. I bought this book for a class and I am glad I had to because I have held on to it since it is such a wealth of information. I wish I had the hardcover book rather than the paperback since it is a thick book and i tended to use it a lot but either version is great. Again, I highly recommend this book. You really cannot go wrong with it.
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