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We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Council on Foreign Relations Book) 1St Edition Edition
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1. Diversification of power did more to shape the Cold War than did the balance of power. The Soviet Union rivaled the west in military power but lagged significantly in every other dimension, such as economic, cultural, moral, and ideological.
2. Both the US and Soviet Union built empires during the Cold War but they differed significantly. The Western European nations actively sought US support and involvement in the post-WWII years, leading to NATO and the Marshall Plan. In contrast, the Soviet Union had to put down numerous active revolts by members of the Warsaw Pact.
3. Many people did see the Cold War as a contest between good and evil, even if historians rarely did. Thousands of East Germans voted with their feet immediately after WWII, again in the 1950s (leading to the construction of the Berlin Wall), and again in 1989 (when Hungary opened its borders).
4. Democracy proved superior to autocracy in maintaining coalitions. Gaddis observes that many attributes of a nation's internal politics carry over into its foreign policy. The US was able to maintain its coalition by applying the consensus building techniques used domestically to managing its coalition. The Soviet Union's approach to coalition building, based on its approach to domestic politics, achieved unity within the Warsaw Pact only by smothering dissent.
5. Marxism-Leninism fostered authoritarian romanticism.Read more ›
Gaddis addresses a number of key issues. Why did the Cold War begin? He sees the Cold War as a result of Stalin's insecurity and brutal Soviet conduct in Eastern Europe. Given the conduct of Soviet Armies and Stalin's aggressive foreign policy, the USA and its Western European Allies had no choice but to respond to Stalin in some form of confrontation. Was the Cold War a conflict just between the USA and the Soviet Union? Gaddis is careful to emphasize the autonomy of many decision makers during the Cold War. Some of these are surprising. An early and important event was the declaration of independence issued by Yugoslav communists in 1948.Read more ›
Gaddis begins with Alexis de Tocqueville's intriguing observation, made in 1835, that "[t]here are now two great nations in the world...the Russians and the Anglo-Americans." Gaddis observes that there were several historical sources of "Russian-American antagonism" which predated the "power vacuum" that separated the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War. More important were the attitudes of the countries in 1945: the U.S. was determined, according to Gaddis, to "seek power in the postwar world" Stalin, the "Soviet leader, too sought security," but Gaddis asserts that, to Stalin, "[n]ational security had come to mean personal security." The role of Stalin in the Cold War's origins is central to Gaddis's thesis.
According to Gaddis, "the nature of the post-World War II international system" was characteristic of empire.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I imagine that this book was important in 1996 when it was released. The Soviet archives had been recently opened to historians, allowing for an entire new... Read more
Usually, books with "New" or "Rethinking" set off my alarm bells. It is usually always revisionism lauding socialists. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Heiss
it is written in a clear, logical style. In the first few pages Mr. Gaddis demolishes arguments suggesting that "if only WE had been a little more accommodating" maybe... Read morePublished 2 months ago by theo pinson
The only complaint I have is that the book basically ends around the Cuban Missile Crises. Besides that it provides excellent insight into the Cold War. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
John Lewis Gaddis has long been known as one of the most knowledgeable analysts of US foreign relations. Read morePublished on June 16, 2014 by Amazon Customer
The Cold War was a hoax concocted by the Council on Foreign Relations' conspirators to scare the American people. Read morePublished on February 19, 2014 by S. Gonzalez
Gaddis presents a reanalysis of the key events and trends of the Cold War. It is not so much a historical narrative, but more like a series of essays on themes. Read morePublished on May 5, 2013 by Magnitude