First Steps Toward Detente

First Steps Toward Detente : American Diplomacy in the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1963

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Richard Williamson's First Steps toward Detente provides a history of negotiations conducted from 1958-1963 between the United States, its Western allies in Europe, and the Soviet Union, in order to resolve the Berlin crisis. These negotiations established ongoing patterns of backchannel, ambassadorial, foreign minister and heads of state discussions. From Khrushchev's visit to the United States in 1959 and the difficult Paris 1960 and Vienna 1961 summits to the construction of the Berlin Wall, disarmament remained a parallel concern dependent on Berlin's resolution. Throughout most of 1962, the United States and Soviets made rigorous attempts to break a stalemate at Checkpoint Charlie, though neither side was truly ready to forfeit. Ultimately, the renewal of Berlin harassments and the Cuban missile crisis put an end to these efforts, but the closer relations that had developed through Berlin talks helped to enable the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. The Berlin Crisis signaled a transition away from multilateral East-West relations to a bilateral U.S.-Soviet relationship, remaining oriented to military positions in Germany. In this book, Williamson explores the significance of these events and shows how the negotiations held between 1958 and 1963 provided the templates for more

Product details

  • Paperback | 268 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations, maps
  • 0739197436
  • 9780739197431
  • 2,163,083

About Richard D. Williamson

Richard D. Williamson is an independent scholar with a PhD in history from Louisiana State more

Review quote

The 'second Berlin crisis' (1958-1963) aggravated East-West relations during a time of great superpower tensions in the Third World. Richard Williamson documents in excruciating detail how the doves in Washington prevailed over the hawks. The late Eisenhower and the Kennedy administrations engaged the Soviets and their principal European allies with protracted and skillful diplomacy instead of giving the nod to the hardliners who were ready to unleash a military crisis over Berlin that could have easily escalated into nuclear war. Similar to the Cuban missile crisis, American diplomacy maintained the peace and prepared the path for detente. No scholarly work has retraced American diplomatic moves during the Berlin crisis as patiently as First Steps toward Detente. This is diplomatic history at its best. -- Gunter Bischof, University of New Orleans As the Cold War recedes from memory, Americans have lost sight of how important the fate of the divided city of Berlin and the future of Germany were to that conflict. Richard Williamson's First Steps Toward Detente reminds us, focusing on Berlin as the key issue for American diplomacy during the crisis years of 1958-1963. In his fast-paced and well-written account, Williamson makes clear the critical contribution of American leaders toward resolving the Berlin crisis and taking the first steps with the Soviet Union away from the nuclear precipice. This book is both a very important contribution to our understanding of the history of the Cold War, as well as a case example of the value of diplomacy in avoiding international conflict. -- Thomas A. Schwartz, Vanderbilt University Williamson provides a detailed rendering of the tortuous path of American diplomacy throughout the entirety of Nikita Khrushchev's Berlin crisis. He locates the roots of detente and later superpower summitry in American leaders' concerns about chronic allied disunity over the status of Berlin under the shadow of global war. -- Richard V. Damms, Mississippi State Universityshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: First Steps to Detente Prologue: The US, USSR, and Berlin, 1953-1958 Chapter 1: "A Free City, Khrushchev's November Proposals, Allied Response, and a Foreign Minister's Conference," November 1958-May 1959 Chapter 2: "Seeking a Summit," Khrushchev's US Visit, Western Heads of State Meeting, the U-2 incident, and the Paris Summit June 1959-December 1960 Chapter 3: "Vienna & the Wall," Kennedy's First Months,, Vienna Summit, the Acheson Plan, and the Berlin Wall, January-August 1961 Chapter 4: "Salami Tactics," Allied Collapse, Kennedy's Private Approach, and Showdown at Checkpoint Charlie, September - December 1961 Chapter 5: "Vital Interests," Thompson-Gromyko in Moscow, Rusk-Gromyko in Geneva, and Rusk-Dobrynin in Washington, Geneva ENDC Sessions, and Soviet Missiles in Cuba, January-August 1962 Chapter 6: "A Slippery Slope," New Harassment in Berlin, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Allied Estrangement, and the Limited Test Ban Treaty, September 1962-November 1963 Summary: American Diplomacy in the Berlin Crisis Bibliographyshow more

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