Cold War: The American Crusade Against the Soviet Union and World Communism, 1945-1990

Overview

For almost fifty years after World War II, the antagonism caused by two rival ideologies — democracy and communism — dominated international politics. Although by no means the only nations involved in this long conflict we call the call war, the democratic United States and the Communist Soviet Union were always at its center. These superpowers vied to surpass each other at controlling international affairs, stockpiling nuclear weapons, racing for the moon, and even at world chess and Olympic competitions. When ...

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Overview

For almost fifty years after World War II, the antagonism caused by two rival ideologies — democracy and communism — dominated international politics. Although by no means the only nations involved in this long conflict we call the call war, the democratic United States and the Communist Soviet Union were always at its center. These superpowers vied to surpass each other at controlling international affairs, stockpiling nuclear weapons, racing for the moon, and even at world chess and Olympic competitions. When the Soviet Union offically disbanded on Christmas day, 1991, forty-six years of open hostility between East and West finally came to an end. The cold war was over, but its effects remain.

What led the United States into such bitter rivalry with the USSR? What fed America's paranoia about communism? How did this obsessive fear come to dictate U.S. policy at home and abroad? In Cold War: The American Crusade Against Communism 1945-1991, James A. Warren examines these and other important questions. The first comprehensive study of the cold war published for yound adults since the dissolutions of the Soviet Union, Cold War takes a thoughtful look at where America has been and where we might be headed.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - William R. Mollineaux
If you have been searching for a readable, objective, interesting, lucid account of Soviet-American relations from 1945 to 1991 that will captivate high school students and capable junior high students, then you must consider the Cold War. Beginning with necessary background bout the Communist takeover of Russia, Warren clearly explains why the Communists' ideas and actions worried Western countries. While discussing relations between the Western Allies-namely the United States and Great Britain-and the Soviet Union during World War II, Warren shows how, as the war drew to a close, their irreconcilable differences caused the alliance to unravel. When examining relations after the defeat of Hitler, Warren focuses on America's perception that Stalin, like Hitler, sought "to dominate the world and destroy the existence of capitalist societies," and Stalin's perception "that the United States and its Western Allies sought through 'capitalist encirclement' to crush the Soviet Union and the political ideas it stood for." Warren also emphases that these perceptions and their ramifications became articles of faith for the two respective superpowers and that all foreign policy decisions were predicated upon them. The first two chapters describe how Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe, coupled with communist activities in countries such as Greece and Turkey, caused the U. S. To take bold initiatives, specifically the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. Other chapters focus on the Berlin Airlift and the "loss" of China; the Korean War; the Red Scare in the U. S.; the Vietnam War; the policies pursued during the presidencies of Eisenhower through Bush; and how Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the breakup of the Soviet Union itself. The last chapter, "Reflections," discusses the collapse of communism, U. S. Mistakes, and recent developments. Particularly well handled are the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the collapse of the Soviet system. Equally fascinating is Warren's description of how U. S. Policy makers permitted their revulsion of communism to result in supporting inept, corrupt, anti-democratic leaders, particularly in Asia and Latin America, only because these leaders were hostile toward communism. Concomitantly, even when communist leaders, Ho Chi Minh and Mao, demonstrated their independence from Moscow, the U. S. Would have nothing to do with them, thus sacrificing opportunities to effect democratic reform. Upon completing this book, the reader will appreciate Warren's respect toward most key decision makers on both sides for their sense of commitment, dedication, restraint, self-discipline, and unwillingness to sacrifice for causes in which they believed. As Warren states, "The cold war could very easily have ended in nuclear holocaust." Cold War is an indispensable resource for helping young adults understand Soviet-American relations after World War II. Index. Photos. Maps. Charts. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. Appendix VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12). Lee & Shepard,
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpA readable, cogently argued, and comprehensive analysis of the 50-year struggle on the part of America to contain Soviet Communist expansionism. Warren begins with a clear treatment of George Keenan's containment policy, which was formulated during the Truman presidency just after the end of World War II, and describes how this diplomatic stance was transformed into a military policy that permeated American politics for half a century. The coverage is broad and includes discussion of the Korean War, McCarthyism, the Hiss Case, the Rosenbergs, loyalty oaths, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, the Vietnam War, detente with the Soviets and the Chinese, Reagan's anti-communist action in Latin America, and the fall of the Soviet Union. Warren sees the Cold War as a diplomatic policy that unnecessarily restricted the civil liberties of Americans and unwisely increased U.S. military expenditures resulting in disastrous foreign involvements. But he also claims that America's success in containing Soviet power was a major reason (though not the only reason) for the Soviet Union's disintegration. An exceptionally intelligent and measured look at the forces driving American foreign policy during the latter half of the 20th century.Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Kirkus Reviews
The Cold War was America's longest war, lasting almost 50 years. In this thought-provoking "survey history of an American crusade," Warren (Portrait of a Tragedy: America and the Vietnam War, 1990, etc.) outlines the struggle between democracy and Communism and describes the key events, themes, and decision makers. In contrast with American leaders after WW II, who felt that the Cold War was a moral crusade in which the United States was "good" and the Soviet Union "evil," Warren adopts a more neutral presentation: "I came to admire the restraint and discipline on both sides. The Cold War could very easily have ended in nuclear holocaust." In addition, Warren's writing is clear and concise—his explanations of terms (isolationism, containment, détente, realpolitik, glasnost, perestroika) will be understandable to YAs. Although Warren concludes that the Communist system "simply did not provide a satisfactory way of life" nor did it "demonstrate any real capacity to address social and economic problems as they arose," in which "capitalistic democracies proved to be surprisingly adept," he believes that "the obsession with communism often blinded the United States to the realities and problems faced by other countries."

This deftly written history of the Cold War should be included in all collections of books dealing with this period of time.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688105969
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/17/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

James A. Warren was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He attended the Moses Brown School and graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. For many years, he worked as an editor of adult and young adult nonfiction books at Facts on File. He is widely respected for his expertise in modern warefare and is a contributor to Military History Quarterly. His young adult book Portrait of a Tragedy: American and the Vietnam War was named an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice for 1990 and a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. Mr. Warren is currently Executive Editor for Columbia University Press. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The End...
And The Beginning

On November 9, 1989, a curious and unexpected event occurred: Hundreds of peopledanced merrily atop a long and forbidding wall that divided the German city of Berlin into eastern and western sectors. In the ensuing days, thousands more Germans joined the party, taking up shovels, picks, anything they could find, and setting about the happytask of breaking this barrier, the Berlin Wall, apart.

That the Germans undertook this task of destruction in a spirit of celebration was hardly surprising. The Berlin Wall had been constructed in the summer of 1961 by the order of the premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. Designed to cut off the flow of East German citizens into the Western sector of the city, it was soon transformed into something more than just another state-imposed barrier, another grim reminder that the arm of government was everywhere in Eastern Europe. It became the most prominent symbol of the tension and rivalry between democratic capitalism and communism, between the West (the United States, Britain, France, and their allies), and the East (the Soviet Union, the nations of Eastern Europe, and their allies).

The rivalry had been, without question, the most expensive, the most global, and certainly the most dangerous of any in recorded history. Two nations of enormous strength, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the East and the United States of America in the West, had played the leading roles, but the Germans themselves had played a major part. For it was in Germany, and over Germany, that the cold war began.And in Germany, in November of 1989, the cold war was surely coming to an end.

Many of the Germans in Berlin that November had spent their entire lives in a divided Germany, but many other Berliners still remembered the beginning of the cold war more than four decades earlier. The fall of the wall, insofar as it presaged the fall of communism in East Germany and in the rest of Eastern Europe, was a decidedly welcome development -- all the more so because communism seemed about to leave the world stage, in Germany at least, not with a bang but with a whimper. Over the next two years, the nations that had fallen under the control of the powerful Soviet army in Eastern Europe in the final days of World War II would reject their established governments; for better or worse, they would opt for revolution, for self-determination, for a future dictated by their own choices.

What made all of this possible? Although the roots of unrest and dissatisfaction with the status quo in Eastern Europe were deep, it took the policies of one forward-looking leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to make true reform and revolution a live option. Gorbachev's policies of glasnost (roughly translated as "openness") and perestroika ("restructuring") turned out to be far more explosive than he or any other Communist bargained for. In December 1991, after a series of secessions and attempted secessions by the USSR's member republics, and even a last-gasp coup by hard-liners, the famous red flag with hammer and sickle came down from the Kremlin. The world's most powerful Communist state ceased to exist, its fifteen republics all claiming some new form of independence. The great and fearsome Soviet empire was defunct.

The fall of the USSR signaled many things, but most of all it meant that the cold war era had come to an abrupt and unforeseen end. The cold war spanned more than four decades. It was a time, historian Bernard Weisberger tells us, "of denunciations, propaganda, coups, proxy wars, invasions, alliances, and arms buildups, punctuated by brief episodes of cooperation, but always veering perilously toward the brink of nuclear holocaust." In the end, the cold war was a conflict between two vastly different systems and the people who believed in them. It was a peculiar and complex conflict, fought on more levels than other wars in modern history. And for those who participated, the stakes were indeed high: The very survival of the planet hung in the balance.

Our story begins in April 1945, when two great armies converged on the Elbe River in Germany: the Soviet Union's Red Army from the east and the United States Army from the west. When they met at the Elbe, there was much rejoicing, for the Third Reich (Adolf Hitler's Germany) was in its death throes. The surrender of the Germans to the Allies in May created a power vacuum of monumental proportions in Europe, and it set the stage for the coming confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The seeds of conflict between the two nations, however, predated World War II and Germany's subsequent surrender. The Americans and the Western Europeans shared a political and social culture based on the ideas of the ancient Greeks, the Enlightenment, and British common law. An abiding respect for individual rights, private property, representative government, the rule of law, and a free press was at its core.

The Bolsheviks, a group of inspired revolutionaries, had seized power late in 1917 from a provisional government that had overthrown the Russian czar earlier that year. The Bolsheviks scorned the political traditions and institutions of the West. At first the revolutionaries ruled Russia by assemblies called soviets. Soon soviet republics were also set up in Ukraine, Belarus, and other parts of what had been the czarist Russian empire. Drawing on the outlook and philosophy of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Karl Marx, they created a Communist system committed to the overthrow of democratic governments, which they considered not democratic at all. To Vladimir Ilych Lenin, the charismatic leader of the Communist movement, democracies seemed little more than governments designed to enhance the lives of the factory owners and landed aristocrats at the expense of the working class (Marx had referred to working people as the proletariat).

Cold War. Copyright © by James Warren. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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