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The Cold War: A World History

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'Masterly ... a book of resounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past' Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year

'A masterful survey that will set the standard for Cold War scholarship for years to come' Jonathan Steele, London Review of Books

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the Cold War.

For over forty years the demands of the Cold War shaped the life of almost all of us. There was no part of the world where East and West did not, ultimately, demand a blind and absolute allegiance, and nowhere into which the West and East did not reach. Countries as remote from each other as Korea, Angola and Cuba were defined by their allegiances. Almost all civil wars became proxy conflicts for the superpowers. Europe was seemingly split in two indefinitely.

Arne Westad's remarkable new book is the first to have the distance from these events and the ambition to create a convincing, powerful narrative of the Cold War. The book is genuinely global in its reach and captures the dramas and agonies of a period always overshadowed by the horror of nuclear war and which, for millions of people, was not 'cold' at all: a time of relentless violence, squandered opportunities and moral failure.

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Review:

Westad has demonstrated that it is possible to tell the vast story of the Cold War in just 600 pages...a clear and well-written summary of a global conflict (Gerard Degroot The Times)

A tremendous and timely history lesson for our age (Kirkus Reviews)

Westad's panoramic history is an impressive feat (Publisher's Weekly)

The Cold War evinces a lifetime of research and thought on the subject. Compelling ideas and valuable insights appear frequently... (National Interest)

For generations, the Cold War was context, the inescapable setting of political life. This history sets the Cold War itself in context, within the greater landscape of world history, deeply understood, and masterfully presented. It is a powerful synthesis by one of our great historians (Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin)

Westad has produced a grand narrative of the Cold War. Defining it as a struggle between capitalism and socialism as well as a bipolar international system, Westad brilliantly illustrates its ideological, geopolitical, technological, and economic dimensions. Westad, the world's foremost scholar of the Cold War, once again dazzles readers with the scope and depth of his analysis (Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of American History, Miller Center, University of Virginia)

The Cold War is the history of the twentieth century and the foundation for our current world. Arne Westad provides a powerful analysis of why the Cold War occurred, what it meant, and why it still matters. He is especially strong in elucidating the ideas of perfection that drove very imperfect, often brutal, leaders. Westad's book links the Cold War to globalization, recent wars in the Middle East, and American rivalries with Russia and China. This is a book that everyone interested in politics and foreign policy should read. It is a riveting story, told by one of the foremost world historians (Jeremi Suri, author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office)

His ambitious book wrests attention away from the classic arenas of Moscow, Berlin and Washington, and looks instead at Indonesia, Chile, Angola, China and Korea, showing how the Cold War affected the globe and how it was, in turn, shaped by events in seemingly distant lands. (Herald Scotland)

Ambitious, perspicacious and panoramic in scope (Financial Times)

From the Back Cover:

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the Cold War.

For over forty years the demands of the Cold War shaped the life of almost all of us. There was no part of the world where East and West did not, ultimately, demand a blind and absolute allegiance, and nowhere into which the West and East did not reach. Countries as remote from each other as Korea, Angola and Cuba were defined by their allegiances. Almost all civil wars became proxy conflicts for the superpowers. Europe was seemingly split in two indefinitely.

Arne Westad's remarkable new book is the first to have the distance from these events and the ambition to create a convincing, powerful narrative of the Cold War. The book is genuinely global in its reach and captures the dramas and agonies of a period always overshadowed by the horror of nuclear war and which, for millions of people, was not 'cold' at all: a time of relentless violence, squandered opportunities and moral failure.

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9780465054930: The Cold War

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