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The United States and the End of the Cold War

Implications, Reconsiderations, Provocations

John Lewis Gaddis

Publication Date - April 1994

ISBN: 9780195085518

320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $34.99


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.

About the Author(s)

John Lewis Gaddis is Professor of History and director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. He is the author of The Long Peace and Strategies of Containment.


"An enlightening survey....Gaddis has an engaging style, an impressive range of knowledge, and a way of getting after the truth."--Abraham Brumberg, The Washington Post Book World

"Gaddis is at his best...when challenging the chain of seductive assumptions advanced by so many journalistic and academic deep thinkers to prove that the United States is effortlessly gliding into the best of all possible worlds....His skill at framing questions, identifying uncertainties and questioning generalizations...is a quality we need much more of in our national foreign policy debate."--Alan Tonelson, The New York Times Book Review

"Uncommonly perceptive, carefully analytic, and engagingly elegant."--John Mueller, University of Rochester

"One of America's leading historians of the Cold War era asks the right questions about how the lessons of the past can illuminate the future. As always, his answers are fascinating."--Joseph S. Nye, Jr., The Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

"An excellent parallel text to a standard historical presentation, providing in-depth coverage of key developments in U.S. foreign policy."--Thomas P. Thornton, Johns Hopkins University

"Meets the needs of my course."--Richard A. Stubbing, Duke University

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