In this accessible and remarkably balanced synthesis, Melvyn Leffler , one of the most distinguished and prominent historians of American foreign relations, offers a refreshing interpretation of Cold War policymaking from the vantage points of both Washington and Moscow. Rejecting the oft-repeated assertion that U. Leffler argues that, while the decisions of policymakers were clearly shaped by perceptions of both threat and opportunity, the constraints of the international system within which they operated also severely circumscribed their freedom of action. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Although emphasizing contingency as a major factor in the arc of history, Leffler argues that Cold War leaders were trapped within ideological prisons of their own making, suggesting perhaps that the trajectory of the Cold War was more predetermined than he allows for.

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Thomas R. Maddux, Melvyn P. New York: Hill and Wang. The New Cold War History. Cold War specialists had a very good year in with the publication of a number of fine books, including Melvyn P.

Leffler's most recent assessment of significant case studies during the Cold War and Vladislav M. The authors not only make use of significant new primary sources but also offer a more inclusive approach with respect to the considerations shaping policy on both sides.

Their approaches are not identical, but they share a focus on leaders who made a significant impact and a thesis that the Cold War, in the most important sense, transcended strategic, Most users should sign in with their email address.

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Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Melvyn P. California State University, Northridge. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Cite Thomas R. Select Format Select format. Permissions Icon Permissions. All rights reserved. Issue Section:.

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Translated by C ynthia K lohr. T he G eorgetown S lavery A rchive. T he S lave S ocieties D igital A rchive. S imon L evis S ullam. Translated by O ona S myth and C laudia P atane. Foreword by D avid I. K ertzer.


For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War

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This is a masterful account of the Cold War by a distinguished historian in full stride. Leffler focuses on critical turning points when crises, leadership changes, and shifting diplomatic landscapes provided opportunities for reducing hostilities. In each episode, he draws vivid portraits of U. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev -- as they defined threats and opportunities, navigated politics on the home front, and made strategic choices. Drawing on recently released Soviet documents and a long career as a scholar, Leffler moves beyond the old revisionist and traditionalist debates by offering a more synthetic interpretation that stresses both the imperatives of power politics and the legacies of ideas and history. In explaining the origins of the Cold War, he stresses the overriding importance of Germany; in explaining its persistence, he stresses competition in the developing world. What is most innovative is the attention Leffler pays to ideology and memory as they shaped assessments of international society and shifting power realities.



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