ARMED TRUCE: The Beginnings of the Cold War 1945-46 by Hugh Thomas
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ARMED TRUCE: The Beginnings of the Cold War 1945-46

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One shies away from picking up yet another history of the origins of the Cold War, even when it is written by as prestigious a historian as Thomas. The prizewinning author of The Spanish Civil War provides a solid overview of the first two years after the end of WW II. His performance is satisfactory, to be sure, but this remains basically a rehash. Thomas obviously stands alongside Thomas Carlyle in seeing the ""great man"" as the key to history. Thus, he spends an inordinate amount of time in giving summary portraits of Stalin, Churchill, Molotov, Beria, Truman, and Kennan, among others. He takes the view (nothing new either) that the confluence of traditional Russian imperialism and Marxist-Leninist ideology had fruition in the postwar Soviet drive for expansionism. He's repulsed by the revisionist theories which place the blame for the Cold War squarely on the US. Nothing could be more misleading, he implies. In the two years covered by this volume, Thomas sees the US as almost dewy-eyed in its understanding of the Soviets. Truman himself in a 1945 speech said, ""I don't give a damn what kind of government the Russians have if they are satisfied; and they seem to be, or some thirty million. . .wouldn't have died for them."" Later in the book, Thomas states clearly: ""The prime cause [of the Cold War] was the ideology of the Soviet leaders, and their consequent incapacity. . .to make permanent arrangements with. . .the capitalist states."" He quotes Maxim Litvinov in 1946 saying, when asked what would happen if the West acceded to the Soviet's foreign policy demands: ""It would lead to the West being faced, in a more or less short time, with the next series of demands."" Among all the Cold War writers, Thomas stands most closely with John Lukacs. There is more to come, too, as Thomas plans a series of volumes. Solid synthesis, but nothing really new. But the reputation is certain to create interest.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1986
Publisher: Atheneum