‘Masterly … a book of resounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past’ Richard Davenport-Hines, The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year
‘A masterful survey that will set the standard for Cold War scholarship for years to come’ Jonathan Steele, London Review of Books
As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the Cold War.
For over forty years the demands of the Cold War shaped the life of almost all of us. There was no part of the world where East and West did not, ultimately, demand a blind and absolute allegiance, and nowhere into which the West and East did not reach. Countries as remote from each other as Korea, Angola and Cuba were defined by their allegiances. Almost all civil wars became proxy conflicts for the superpowers. Europe was seemingly split in two indefinitely.
Arne Westad’s remarkable new book is the first to have the distance from these events and the ambition to create a convincing, powerful narrative of the Cold War. The book is genuinely global in its reach and captures the dramas and agonies of a period always overshadowed by the horror of nuclear war and which, for millions of people, was not ‘cold’ at all: a time of relentless violence, squandered opportunities and moral failure.