In this ambitious book, Halle views the Cold War as a historical process which is determined by various factors. One is a geographic insecurity on the part of Russia; another falls in the realm of national character in which the Communist movement, being as totalitarian as Czarism, ""is incidental rather than essential."" In terms of these types of conditioning factors, Halle sets forth the history of the Cold War as another chapter in the balance of power story: its origins in the American desire to destroy German power, the resultant vacuum of power, and Russian power stepping in to fill the vacuum. Halle notes all the obvious events of the Cold War, e.g., the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO, Korea, Berlin, and ends his account with the Cuban crisis which is seen as the end of the Cold War. U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia is dismissed as a result of it--an unfortunate excursion prompted by an overzealous, faintly paranoid America. ""Driven by circumstance"" is both a favorite and indicative phrase of Halle. If one agrees with his interpretation of the Cold War, then one must ultimately agree with the circumstances he selects to ""drive"" events. Technically, Halle's method becomes suspect due to his facility in articulating the ""circumstances"" within the Soviet Union and fuzziness in defining those of the United States. Halle, an academic and practical politician with considerable experience in and out of print, is a name assured of attention and more usually agreement--this to the contrary.