The Cold War focuses on the tumultuous relationship between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, offering a new perspective on the great rivalry between the two countries. The text examines the crystallization of the Cold War between the two superpowers following the radically divergent paths they took after 1917, highlighting the domestic politics, diplomatic maneuvers, and even the psychological factors that bound the two countries in conflict. Powaski paints a portrait of each new development and how it added to their rivalry. He looks at the Marshall Plan, the communist coup in Czechoslovakia, the Berlin blockade, the formation of NATO, and the first Soviet nuclear test. Throughout, Powaski stresses the events of special interest to America, including the Vietnam War, the Arms Race, and the domestic effects of the superpower competition. He challenges students to think of the Cold War in new ways, arguing that the roots of the conflict are centuries old, going back to Czarist Russia and the very infancy of the American nation. He explains that while both Russia and America were expansionist nations, each believed it possessed a unique mission in history. Because Americans perceived the Russian government (whether Czarist or Bolshevik) as despotic and Russians saw the United States as conspiring to prevent it from reaching its goals, Soviet American relations, difficult before World War II, escalated dramatically after both nations emerged as the world's major military powers. Powaski discusses the onset of the Cold War under Truman and Stalin, its globalization under Eisenhower and Khrushchev, and the latter-day episodes of confrontation and detente. Powaski gives credit to Reagan and especially to Bush in facilitating the Soviet collapse, but also notes that internal economic failure, not outside pressure, proved decisive in the Communist failure. He also offers a clear assessment of the lasting distortions the struggle wrought upon American institutions, raising the important question of whether anyone really won the war. With clarity, fairness, and insight, Powaski offers the most comprehensive survey to date of the Cold War, exploring its origin in the early 20th century to its resolution under Gorbachev and Bush. Ideal for courses in world history and U.S. and Soviet foreign policy, this text is the definitive account of our century's longest international struggle.
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