We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History

We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History

Paperback Council on Foreign Relations Book

By (author) John Lewis Gaddis

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  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Format: Paperback | 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 229mm x 28mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 9 July 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198780710
  • ISBN 13: 9780198780717
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Illustrations note: notes, bibliography, index
  • Sales rank: 151,654

Product description

The end of the Cold War makes it possible, for the first time, to begin writing its history from a truly international perspective, one reflecting Soviet, East European, and Chinese as well as American and West European viewpoints. In a major departure from his earlier scholarship, John Lewis Gaddis, the pre-eminent American authority on the United States and the Cold War, has written a comprehensive comparative history of that conflict from its origins through to its most dangerous moment, the Cuban missile crisis. We Now Know is packed with new information drawn from previously unavailable sources; it also reflects the findings of a new generation of Cold War historians. It contains striking new insights into the role of ideology, democracy, economics, alliances, and nuclear weapons, as well as major reinterpretations of Stalin, Truman, Khrushchev, Mao, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. It suggests solutions to long-standing puzzles: Did the Soviet Union want world revolution? Why was Germany divided? Who started the Korean War? What did the Americans mean by "massive retaliation"? When did the Sino-Soviet split begin? Why did the U.S.S.R. send missiles to Cuba? And what made the Cold War last as long as it did? This is a fresh, thought-provoking and powerfully argued reassessment of the Cold War by one of its most distinguished historians. It will set the agenda for debates on this subject for years to come.

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Author information

John Lewis Gaddis is Robert Lovett Professor of History at Yale University. His many books include Strategies of Containment, The Long Peace, and The United States and the End of the Cold War.

Review quote

'A masterly review of the early phases of the conflict between the United States, Russia, China and their respective allies...it is clear, thorough and judicious; in short, magnificent.' The Economist Review 'A new narrative of the first half of the Cold War up to the Cuban missile crisis...We Know Now is an important book. It deserves a wide readership.' Taylor Downing, The Observer

Editorial reviews

An elegantly written, vivid history of the early years of the Cold War, culminating with the Bay of Pigs crisis. Noting that the flood of materials from archives in this country and abroad has substantially deepened, and sometimes considerably altered, scholars' view of events, veteran Cold War historian Gaddis (The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1972, etc.) has set out to provide an overview for a general audience of the leaders, policies, and international crises that shaped the late 1940s to the early '60s, concentrating on the two great antagonists, the US and the Soviet Union, and their leaders. While no one figure shaped the Cold War, Stalin came closest, injecting an obsessive paranoia, duplicity, and an aura of menace into the relations among post - WW II states. "Suspicion, distrust, and an abiding cynicism were," Gaddis observes, "not only his preferred but his necessary environment." And while these qualities, along with an extraordinary capacity for cruelty, extended and preserved the USSR, they also, Gaddis argues, ensured its downfall. "The killings Stalin authorized, the states he seized. . .the sphere of influence he imposed provided no lasting security for the Soviet Union." They inspired resistance that, when Soviet leaders lost the taste for repression, could not be contained. In a series of chapters on American and Russian conflicts in the third world, on the place of nuclear weapons in the uncertain balance of power, and on the increasingly uncomfortable relations between America and Russia and their respective allies, he does a superb job of synthesizing a wide range of sources, drawing clear and persuasive lessons from events. His reading of the motivations of figures as diverse as John F. Kennedy and Chairman Mao seems balanced and acute. Gaddis has written a lively, deeply informed summary, the most accessible and compelling guide to the international conflicts, issues, and dominant ideologies of the early Cold War era. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

1. Dividing the World ; 2. Cold War Empires: Europe ; 3. Cold War Empires: Asia ; 4. Nuclear Weapons and the Early Cold War ; 5. The German Question ; 6. The Third World ; 7. Economics, Ideology, and Alliance Solidarity ; 8. Nuclear Weapons and the Escalation of the Cold War ; 9. The Cuban Missile Crisis ; 10. The New Cold War History: First Impressions ; Notes, Bibliography, Index