THE IRON CURTAIN: Churchill, America, and the Cold War by Fraser Harbutt

THE IRON CURTAIN: Churchill, America, and the Cold War

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A work of history written from an English perspective that strains mightily to give Churchill a larger part than he deserves in the instigation of the Cold War in the late 1940's. The details by now are shop-worn, having been overworked in the 1960's and 70's by Walter Williams, Lloyd Gardner, Gar Alperovitz, Louis Halle, Gabriel Kolko, and a host of other revisionists, who saw the US as mainly to blame for the tensions that developed vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. Harbutt, in essence, provides us with a revision of the revisionists, arguing that Churchill craftily led the Truman Administration to understand that it had no option but to put its foot down with Stalin, stepping into the vacuum that Great Britain could no longer fill. Churchill's visit to Washington in February, 1946, and his famous ""Iron Curtain"" speech at Fulton, Missouri, a month later, were crucial, Harbutt says, in leading first Truman, then the American public, to this realization. All that was left was for opportunities to present themselves, and here Stalin clumsily played right into Anglo-American hands when he occupied Northern Iran. The US worked the United Nations skillfully in this case, and it was only left for Truman to later consolidate his position with the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift. Harbutt's overstated case does not take into account the dynamics of the era which would ultimately have produced the same result with or without Churchill. Similarly, it is too accepting of a slavish Truman waiting for Churchill to define conditions. One suspects that Truman, somewhat of an Anglophobe, would have taken an out-of-office Churchill's proselytizing with a huge grain of salt.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press