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The Cold War: A New History de John Lewis…
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The Cold War: A New History (2005 original; edició 2005)

de John Lewis Gaddis

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1,5173411,908 (3.9)22
Beginning with World War II and ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is a new account of the strategic dynamics that drove the age, with portraits of its major personalities and much fresh insight into its most crucial events. It contains much new information drawn from newly opened Soviet, East European, and Chinese archives. Now, as America once again finds itself in a global confrontation with an implacable ideological enemy, this is a story whose lessons it is vitally necessary to understand.--From publisher description.… (més)
Membre:jayverh
Títol:The Cold War: A New History
Autors:John Lewis Gaddis
Informació:Penguin Press, Hardcover, 333 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:default, to-read

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The Cold War: A New History de John Lewis Gaddis (2005)

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Anglès (29)  Neerlandès (3)  Italià (1)  Alemany (1)  Totes les llengües (34)
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History is written by the winners. This book is no way an exception to this adage. True, I was born in the vanquished state, yet I was in a tender age, when the collapse occurred hence unlike adults I lost little in the process. Or I was lucky enough to have parents and family to shield me from the embittering and devastating effects of the chaos that ensued. Anyway I approached the book with as open mind as possible, given the situation.

Previously I was smitten with revelations of how the Cold War unfolded in Europe, following my reading of the wonderful Tony Judt’s “Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945”. There the whole misery of European countries beyond the Iron Curtain dawned on me (not that it was only hopeless drudgery instead of life over there. There were bright spots for sure). We are not that much educated upon what was happening in USSR-influenced territories. Prevailing opinion here is that they just sucked of vital resources, which were more than necessary home, since people in USSR we constantly confronted with shortages of this and that. And when those countries eagerly rushed into embraces of the archenemy – well, they were branded ungrateful renegades, who defected even when we afforded them better living conditions than we had ourselves.

Now the book. I did count on objective narrative of this most cynical standoff that dominated world politics for nearly 50 years. And it appears that the author did try to make a book precisely like that. But to me it appears that it just proved the rule, quoted in the beginning. Time and again I tried to check my frustrations saying “it’s just because you’re from the USSR and it’s your natural defensiveness”. Thus maybe you should also doubt my impressions, but I tried to be unbiased.

First of all I believe such histories should be written by the least biased nationals as possible, either by neutrals or…Swedes :) Because time and again I felt that Communist block’s actions were thoroughly thrashed and vilified while similar misgivings and CRIMES by the US were giving a superficial disapproval, without exposing their full horrible consequences.

True, the author perfunctory coverage of the Vietnam War is compensated with equally tangential description of Afghan War (where no US participation is acknowledged, no matter how direct). Yet while the USSR is being lambasted for its role in suppression of Hungarian and Czech uprisings, American actions in other countries are presented in far less dramatic cadences.

What actually pricked my ears first early in the book was author’s statement that since the Americans preferred a state of aloofness they didn’t pestered foreign nations. He does acknowledge that the US had procured a colony for itself in Philippines. Not so fast, I read S. Kinzer’s wonderful book “Overthrow: America’s century of regime change from Hawaii to Iraq”. You don’t fool me. USA finished independent kingdom of Hawaii on a whim, USA invaded Cuba on a trumped up pretext, and there were several other blatant cases beyond the acknowledged interventions in Guatemala, Iran, Vietnam and Chile. Should I be surprised that the US invaded Grenada as late as mid 80-es to forestall recently elected leftist government there (just in case – it’s our underbelly after all) and the author prefers not to mention it, overawed by the unfolding disintegration of corrupted Eastern Bloc in Europe?

Yet by and large all these my pickings are just historical footnotes and may as well be subjective. What counts is now. And looking at the winner and the world it created I cannot say that the best scenario had won the global dominance. US (with defeated Russia not far away) is world’s leader for prison inmates. Itself and its citizens are carrying the largest debt, and has the military strength mightier than several followers combined with bases and secret prisons everywhere. It has a huge number of homeless people and there’s no safety net, enjoyed by the oppressed citizens of the Eastern block. If now all those unlucky millions who eat dust in the wake of the rat race towards the American dream are asked “How would you look at guaranteed lifetime employment with salary and generous paid vacations, decent free medicine and free college education (and higher) and a pension enough not only to survive, but to still have a human dignity (things all people in Soviet block had), but have little say in matters of politics, don’t have a tremendous choice of goods, and opportunities to travel beyond a dozen of states, but where country leaders are not fat cats, and where you can let your 7-year old child travel the public transport to go to the free Olympic swimming pool for practice half a city size of Moscow away (myself) without any threat of him being molested, kidnapped or shot”? I am not sure everyone would have chosen an abstract ‘freedom’, being sold now.

Be sure I’m not an apologist of the USSR, but as I said above, if it was Sweden or any other Nordic European country that had won the Cold War and established its system’s supremacy and model all over the world, I would have had no qualms. But here in this book I encounter a narrative that offers no explanation for the imploration of the Eastern block beyond the statement that ‘times they a’ changing’ and new leaders of the West had hugely benefited from their stints as actors to cut new figures on the political scene (Reagan and John Paul II). Yet all the way being very pleased that the ‘bad guys’ lost.

My Goodreads friend Caroline has recently reviewed a book on the apparent shortcomings of ‘free capitalism’ - "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism". It appears that taken at face value and with blind faith the ‘free market’ system as viable and human being friendly as theoretical communism. Quite the opposite that is.

This is the only reason I didn’t like the book, which instills a thought that the best ever option won, and currently as it controls the world, we are living in the best reality possible. When in fact it’s not. It does sound self-congratulatory indeed.

P.S.
For a great objective review of a conflict, we all think we know everything about, try “Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization “. Here the author tries to see real Carthage under the layers of interpretations and clichés heaped upon it by centuries of Roman commentators and the later admirers. The picture appearing does not flatter the Romans…
  Den85 | Jan 3, 2024 |
Caveat- listened to this book via Audible. As an audiobook, it does not work great. You must have an immaculate attention span and never break focus for so much as a moment, otherwise you'll be saying to yourself, "Wait, Breshnev again? I thought we'd moved on to Gorby. Damn it." ( )
  IsraOverZero | Sep 23, 2023 |
Oorspronkelijke titel: The Cold War
  HenkJantenZijthoff | May 23, 2023 |
A well-crafted history; nothing an academic would find hugely useful, but an eminently readable summary of one of the most turbulent periods in Earth's history. Gaddis has a fairly clear right-wing bias, but as long as you bear that in mind this is a useful and enjoyable book ( )
  KatherineJaneWright | Jul 17, 2022 |
Muchos son quienes recuerdan lo que es vivir bajo la sombra de la Guerra Fría. la ansiedad ante la posibilidad de una confrontación nuclear desapareció tras la desintegración del bloque soviético; sin embargo, aún no existen preguntas y dudas que deben ser aclaradas para llenar los vacíos dejados por ese período histórico.
sólo ahora, a casi dos décadas de haber concluido el conflicto, es posible comenzar a vislumbrar una perspectiva convincente al respecto. gracias al análisis de la información obtenida de archivos de la URSS recientemente desclasificados, Gadddis ofrece al lector una nueva exposición de Gran la gran confrontación que marcó nuestra existencia y amenazó con acabarla; muestra las dinámicas subyacentes al conflicto; analiza cómo la política y la ideología interactuaban para generar cambios sociales, y plantea escenarios hipotéticos qué, de haberse presentado, habrían significado una amenaza para la humanidad. El autor muestra cómo los creadores de la política de lo más alto, y la gente ordinaria también, lograron invertir el curso de la historia.
“Este es un camino no convencional, emprendido por Gaddis, para Resaltar un punto importante: la Guerra Fría es históricamente significativa tanto por lo que pasó como por lo que no pasó. el autor presenta terribles posibilidades acerca de la gran sombra global que provocaron los Estados Unidos y la unión soviética, una sombra que nunca se transformó en una guerra de Gran escala.” The Washington Post.
  ckepfer | Dec 27, 2020 |
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Beginning with World War II and ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is a new account of the strategic dynamics that drove the age, with portraits of its major personalities and much fresh insight into its most crucial events. It contains much new information drawn from newly opened Soviet, East European, and Chinese archives. Now, as America once again finds itself in a global confrontation with an implacable ideological enemy, this is a story whose lessons it is vitally necessary to understand.--From publisher description.

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