ON EVERY FRONT: The Making of the Cold War by Thomas G. Paterson

ON EVERY FRONT: The Making of the Cold War

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A ""modest synthesis"" of the origins of the Cold War -- and despite the efforts of historian (Univ. of Connecticut) to bring in some political-science material on international relations and bureaucratic functioning, his study leaves us pretty much where we were before. Paterson sets the scene by describing the devastation that resulted from World War II in England, Europe, the USSR, and Asia as compared with the booming economic picture in the U.S. This economic supremacy propelled the U.S. into world-leadership just when international conflict was at a high pitch because of domestic turmoin in Europe -- where Communist-led resistance movements were making bids for power -- and also in China. U.S. rhetoric notwithstanding, Paterson shows the process by which Truman and his advisors accepted the notion of ""spheres of influence"" and the dominant position it implied for Washington. Paterson ties this policy to long-standing ideas about the moral and economic mission America bad in the world, and, on the other side, to the paranoia and distrustfulness of the Soviets. While the Soviet material is scanty, Paterson has gone to the archives to buttress his argument that Truman created a climate of public opinion to support his foreign policy moves by deliberately instilling a fear of Soviet aggression; responsibility for the Cold War therefore falls more heavily on the U.S. despite the general misunderstanding between the superpowers. Although there is nothing particularly original here -- Daniel Yergin reached much the same conclusions in Shattered Peace -- Paterson had added some evidence to support this argument, and his brevity makes this a good starting point for the uninitiated.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1979
Publisher: Norton