Synopses & Reviews
The phrase “Cold War” was coined by George Orwell in 1945 to describe the impact of the atomic bomb on world politics: “We may be heading not for a general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity.” The Soviet Union, he wrote, was “at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war with its neighbors.” But as a leading historian of Soviet foreign policy, Jonathan Haslam, makes clear in this groundbreaking book, the epoch was anything but stable, with constant wars, near-wars, and political upheavals on both sides.
Whereas the Western perspective on the Cold War has been well documented by journalists and historians, the Soviet side has remained for the most part shrouded in secrecyuntil now. Drawing on a vast range of recently released archives in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe, Russias Cold War offers a thorough and fascinating analysis of East-West relations from 1917 to 1989.
Far more than merely a straightforward history of the Cold War, this book presents the first account of politics and decision making at the highest levels of Soviet power: how Soviet leaders saw political and military events, what they were trying to accomplish, their miscalculations, and the ways they took advantage of Western ignorance. Russias Cold War fills a significant gap in our understanding of the most important geopolitical rivalry of the twentieth century.
“A major contribution to our understanding of how American readings of the course of the Cold War . . . have influenced American foreign policy since 1993. Matlock shows in convincing detail why these readings are fundamentally wrong and, in a reasoned argumentative voice, dangerous for the national interests of the United States.”Allen Lynch, University of Virginia
-- Foreign Affairs
“This book is as close as we may come to understanding the distortions ideology played in misunderstanding the Cold War and in applying those distortions thereafter. This is an extraordinary work which should become a standard reference for practitioners, scholars, and concerned citizens for decades to come.”Gary Hart, Former United States Senator (Ret.), Co-chair, Commission on U.S.-Russian Relations
-- Allen Lynch
"Avoiding partisanship and personal agenda, Matlock uses his experience as a seasoned diplomat to deliver a powerful critique of US foreign policy over the last 30 years. Superpower Illusions
is at times scathing, always insightful, and long overdue."Susan Eisenhower, author of Partners in Space: US-Russian Cooperation after the Cold War
-- Gary Hart
“A well written, clearly reasoned and thoroughly informed tour of the past half century of American diplomacyincluding the roots of its successes and failuresled by a superbly qualified participant. A brilliant book.”Sidney Drell, Stanford University
-- Susan Eisenhower
"A truly remarkable book, both wise and provocative, telling a sad yet instructive story of how the United States failed to exploit a triumph in the Cold War to build a new international order reflecting U.S. interests and principles." Dimitri Simes, President, The Nixon Center
-- Sidney Drell
"[Matlocks] biography alone makes this account of the end of the Cold War essential reading, but what makes it even more compelling is [his] thesis...Since the myth of Americas victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War remains an article of faith for many, it is especially valuable that one of its chief protagonists has now so painstakingly dismantled it."--Nicolai N. Petro -- Dimitri Simes
“Hobsbawm… is as clear and trenchant as ever in How to Change the World.”—Bookforum
"Hobsbawm has lived through so much of the political turbulence he portrays that it is easy to fantasize that History itself is speaking here, in its wry, all-seeing, dispassionate wisdom. It is hard to think of a critic of Marxism who can address his or her own beliefs with such honesty and equipoise."—Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books
"[T]his collection shows [Hobsbawm] is a brilliant writer, erudite critic and, as he approaches his 94th birthday, a joyfully unrepentant communist. . . . [How to Change the World] is a book anyone interested in politics could and should devour. It is charmingly optimistic and constantly lucid, and contains the distilled wisdom of a great thinker, thinking about a great thinker." Amol Rajan, Independent
"This is a book of serious ideas, not of politics."— Ben Wilson, Daily Telegraph
Former U.S. ambassador to the USSR Jack F. Matlock refutes the enduring idea that the United States forced the collapse of the Soviet Union by applying military and economic pressurewith wide-ranging implications for U.S. foreign policy. Matlock argues that Gorbachev, not Reagan, undermined Communist Party rule in the Soviet Union and that the Cold War ended in a negotiated settlement that benefited both sides. He posits that the end of the Cold War diminished rather than enhanced American power; with the removal of the Soviet threat, allies were less willing to accept American protection and leadership that seemed increasingly to ignore their interests.
Matlock shows how, during the Clinton and particularly the Bush-Cheney administrations, the belief that the United States had defeated the Soviet Union led to a conviction that it did not need allies, international organizations, or diplomacy, but could dominate and change the world by using its military power unilaterally. The result is a weakened America that has compromised its ability to lead. Matlock makes a passionate plea for the United States under Obama to reenvision its foreign policy and gives examples of how the new administration can reorient the U.S. approach to critical issues, taking advantage of lessons we should have learned from our experience in ending the Cold War.
Timothy Garton Ash is well known as an astute and penetrating observer of a dazzling array of subjects, not least through his many contributions to the New York Review of Books
. This collection of his essays from the last decade reveals his knack for ferreting out exceptional insights into a troubled world, often on the basis of firsthand experience. Whether he is writing about how “liberalism” has become a dirty word in American political discourse, the problems of Muslim assimilation in Europe, Ukraines Orange Revolution, Günter Grasss membership in the Waffen-SS, or the angry youth of Iran, Garton Ash combines a gimlet eye for detail with deep knowledge of the history of his chosen subjects.
Running through this book is the authors insistence that, whatever some postmodernists might claim, there are indeed facts--and we have both a political and a moral duty to establish them. By practicing what it preaches, Facts Are Subversive shows why Timothy Garton Ash is one of the worlds leading political writers.
A penetrating reassessment of Marxist thought and its relevance today, by a world-renowned historian of Marxism
"We need to take account of Marx today," argues Eric Hobsbawm in this persuasive and highly readable book. The ideas of capitalism's most vigorous and eloquent enemy have been enlightening in every era, the author contends, and our current historical situation of free-market extremes suggests that reading Marx may be more important now than ever.
Hobsbawm begins with a consideration of how we should think about Marxism in the post-communist era, observing that the features we most associate with Soviet and related regimes—command economies, intrusive bureaucratic structures, and an economic and political condition of permanent war—are neither derived from Marx's ideas nor unique to socialist states. Further chapters discuss pre-Marxian socialists and Marx's radical break with them, Marx's political milieu, and the influence of his writings on the anti-fascist decades, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War period. Sweeping, provocative, and full of brilliant insights, How to Change the World challenges us to reconsider Marx and reassess his significance in the history of ideas.
About the Author
Jonathan Haslam is Professor of the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of numerous books, including The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allendes Chile: A Case of Assisted Suicide and No Virtue Like Necessity: Realist Thought in International Relations Since Machiavelli.