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Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John LewisGaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... One of the difficulties with weapons is that they do not automatically self-destruct once they have fulfilled their function. The problem particularly afflicts Americans who, taking advantage of lax gun-control laws, tend to buy whatever they think they need to defend themselves. But as the danger recedes, they frequently forget about the lethal arsenals they have accumulated ...


Anatol Lieven: Remembering the Cold War, 16 November 2006

The Cold War 
by John LewisGaddis.
Allen Lane, 333 pp., £20, January 2006, 0 7139 9912 8
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The Global Cold War 
by Odd Arne Westad.
Cambridge, 484 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 521 85364 8
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... its effects have survived the deepening disillusionment with the Iraqi and Afghan interventions. John LewisGaddis is a true product of this nationalist ideology and the imperial establishment it supports. Take this statement, from his short history of the Cold War: Americans, he writes, are ‘impatient with ...

The Forty Years’ Peace

Keith Kyle, 21 October 1993

The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations and Provocations 
by John LewisGaddis.
Oxford, 301 pp., £19.50, July 1992, 0 19 505201 3
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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Yale, 429 pp., £22, February 1993, 0 300 04773 8
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The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security 1918-1957 
edited by Rolf Ahmann, A.M. Birke and Michael Howard.
Oxford, 546 pp., £50, June 1993, 0 19 920503 5
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... was devoted to East-West relations. At its first session a musty-looking gentleman called Sir John Lawrence proposed that we begin from the assumption that the decline of the Soviet economic system had passed the point of no-return. Any policy recommendations must therefore reckon with the consequences of its collapse within the next few years and the ...

Beware Biographers

Jackson Lears: Kennan and Containment, 24 May 2012

George Kennan: An American Life 
by John LewisGaddis.
Penguin, 784 pp., £30, December 2011, 978 1 59420 312 1
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Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War 
by Frank Costigliola.
Princeton, 533 pp., £24.95, January 2012, 978 0 691 12129 1
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... were named after him and he was the recipient of mandatory encomia on official occasions. John LewisGaddis’s biography is a tombstone-sized tribute, based on unlimited access to its subject and his papers. Not bad for a mid-level policy planner whose most senior diplomatic postings were a brief ambassadorial ...

Khrushchev’s Secret

Neal Ascherson, 16 October 1997

We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History 
by John LewisGaddis.
Oxford, 425 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 19 878070 2
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... and security, that we can recognise how weird those years really were. The importance of John LewisGaddis’s book is that it is the first coherent and sustained attempt to write the Cold War’s history since it ended. That alone makes it hard to resist, but it is also wise and imaginative and written in a ...

Who started it?

Jonathan Steele: Who started the Cold War?, 25 January 2018

The Cold War: A World History 
by Odd Arne Westad.
Allen Lane, 710 pp., £30, August 2017, 978 0 241 01131 7
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... his important 1997 book based on the newly opened Soviet archives, We Now Know, the Yale historian John LewisGaddis took a post-revisionist approach. He argued that Cold War studies should focus on the battle of ideas, and not just on military power, since the Soviet Union fell not as a result of military defeat or an ...

Where’s the omelette?

Tom Nairn: Patrick Wright, 23 October 2008

Iron Curtain: From Stage to Cold War 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 488 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 19 923150 8
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... reasonable expectations, and colluded in outlawing demons on both sides. By 1987 comforters like John LewisGaddis could write that the Cold War and the Iron Curtain had been a ‘way of life’ for more than two generations, with the result that ‘it simply does not occur to us to think about how it might end ...


Neal Ascherson: Cold War Stories, 23 July 2009

Constructing the Monolith: The United States, Great Britain and International Communism 1945-50 
by Marc Selverstone.
Harvard, 304 pp., £36.95, February 2009, 978 0 674 03179 1
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... was seamed with cracks into which ‘wedges’ could be driven. The Cold War historian John LewisGaddis wrote 20 years ago that American statesmen in the postwar period never ‘believed in the existence of an international Communist monolith’. After reading Selverstone’s work, it would be hard to ...

Peace without Empire

Perry Anderson, 2 December 2021

Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union 
by Stella Ghervas.
Harvard, 528 pp., £31.95, March, 978 0 674 97526 2
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... of those who wished it so. They had lived through what complacent historians in the West like John LewisGaddis called the ‘Long Peace’ of postwar Europe, but which for them was an unbroken long war of fifty years, starting with the Soviet invasion of the Baltic states in August 1939, before Hitler attacked ...

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