Who started it?

Jonathan Steele

  • The Cold War: A World History by Odd Arne Westad
    Allen Lane, 710 pp, £30.00, August 2017, ISBN 978 0 241 01131 7

More than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the Cold War ended and the surprise is that few historians have yet attempted to analyse it from start to finish, even though for two generations it threatened the world with nuclear armageddon. The balance of terror between the superpowers may have seemed to offer reassurance – as if it could last for ever – but that was always an illusion. Even the millions born since the Soviet Union’s collapse haven’t escaped the Cold War’s mindset, since many aspects of the old confrontation survive. Current tensions over countries that used to be unassailable parts of Soviet territory and are now Nato members, like the three Baltic states, or Ukraine and Georgia, which are seeking to become members, have led us towards a new Cold War.

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