The Great Cold War

The Great Cold War : A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors

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The Great Cold War is arguably the most fascinating account yet written about the Cold War-and a timely enunciation of the lessons we need to learn from the Cold War years if we are to be successful in tackling the potential confrontations of the 21st century. This is a riveting expose of modern history for the general reader, a "must read" for policy-makers, and an eye-opening overview for scholars and students. No other book conveys so vividly how each side interpreted the other's intentions, and what shaped their actions. In a richly informed and perceptive "insider's account", former British diplomat Gordon Barrass shows that while there were times when each side did understand the other's intentions, there were also times when they were wildly wrong-leading to the chilling revelation that the situation was far more serious than most people knew at the time-or imagine now. In looking back over that half-century of confrontation, Barrass poses three big questions: Why did the Cold War start? Why did it last so long? And why did it end the way it did? To answer them, he traveled to Washington, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, and Moscow to interview nearly 100 people, including top policymakers, strategists, military commanders, and key figures in the world of intelligence. Their narratives reveal what was going on behind the scenes, providing valuable insights into the mixture of insecurity, ignorance, and ambition that drove the rivalry between the two sides. Barrass concludes that bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end was a far greater challenge than just "being tough with the Soviets." In the end it depended on the Americans' "getting inside the mind" of the Soviets to gain the leverage needed to achieve their goal-and intelligence played a key role in that process.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 162.56 x 231.14 x 38.1mm | 816.46g
  • Stanford University Press
  • Palo Alto, United States
  • English
  • 4 figures, 28 illustrations, 6 maps
  • 0804760640
  • 9780804760645
  • 193,716

About Gordon S. Barrass

Gordon S. Barrass was Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office in London and a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Cabinet during the last years of the Cold War. He is a member of the Board of the Cold War Studies Centre at the London School of Economics.

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Review quote

"A remarkably comprehensive portrait of the entire Cold War-combining impressive detail with a continuing high-level overview. Buttressed by an extended examination of de-classified diplomatic and intelligence reports-and by interviews with such legendary figures as Markus Wolf-the study provides new penetrating insights into that long struggle. The detachment of a British observer who could avoid identifying with either of the superpowers is refreshing. A splendid achievement. Mr. Barrass is to be congratulated."-James Schlesinger, U.S. Secretary of Defense under both Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, former Director of Central Intelligence under President Richard Nixon, and U.S. Energy Secretary under President Jimmy Carter "Immensely timely. The lessons Barrass draws from the Cold War years can help us greatly in tackling the confrontations of the 21st century. It is a 'must read' for policy makers." -Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush "Gordon Barras has managed to guide the reader through an intricate and dimly lit web of historical events that shaped the course of the 20th century. His route map is much more precise and illuminating than offered by those who tried before him to explain how the Cold War was ticking and how it was finally disarmed without an explosion." -Alexander Bessmertnykh, the last Soviet Foreign Minister

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Table of contents

CONTENTS Prologue Why did it Start? From Russian River to the Elbe 1 Soaring Eagles 2 Face to Face Sizing Each Other Up 3 A World Transformed 4 Getting Colder 5 Becoming More Military 6 Korean Blunders Why did it Last So Long? Atoms for War 7Easing Tensions 8Living with the Bomb 9The Spirit of Geneva 10Into the Missile Age Crisis Management 11Khrushchev's Gauntlet 12Showdown in Berlin 13At the Cuban Precipice The Rise of Detente 14One Bed, Two Dreams 15Trying to Make Detente Work 16A Balancing Act 17Expletives & Ambitions 18The Mastery of Europe The Fall of Detente 19The Twilight Zone 20Battle of the Strategies 21The Death of Detente Why Did It End the Way It Did? Drastic Reappraisals 22The Correlation of Forces 23American 'New Thinking' 24Soviet 'New Thinking' 25The Reagan Challenge 26Vulnerability 27Changing Tack 28War Scare Trying to End the Cold War 29The Gorbachev Response 30Getting to Know You 31 Progress & Crumbling 32Checkmate Closure 33Accelerating & Braking 34Maltese Breakthrough 35Riding the Tiger Last Reflections 36Looking Back 37Reading Their Mail 38How Did it Help? 39Looking Forward Sources Acknowledgements Footnotes Index

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