The Long Peace: Inquiries Into the History of the Cold War Paperback – 24 Aug 1989
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`However circumscribed the tropics, Gaddis manages to infuse into each one a richness of association, of apposite generalization, which lifts them beyond the level of standart academic treatment. he is revealed above all as a highly rational and liberal-minded observer, a sharp dissector of human folly, who is yet quick to appreciate strengths where they are to be foundtimes higher education-august 1988
'Gaddis writes superbly well, no mean task when mixing narrative, analysis, personal reflection and advocacy ... Gaddis' powers of synthesis are, as ever, most impressive of all.' The Washington Post
'Gaddis raises some interesting and timely questions ... This provocative and well-argued work is recommended' Library Journal
About the Author
John Lewis Gaddis, Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio University, is the author of The United States and the Origins of the Cold War and Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"The Long Peace" is essentially a collection of essays from primarily the United Sates archives. Gaddis breaks down the novel into several key chapters. Firstly he addresses how Russian-American relations were prior to the outbreak of the Cold War. Leading up to and including World War Two. This is essential as we learn that even during World War Two, the U.S. was already viewing the possibilities of the Soviet Union as a threat post-war.
Most people would deem a viewpoint that the United States and Russia merely stayed in the Cold War for "world ranking" as erroneous. But Gaddis gives us compelling arguments as to why this actually may have some truth. If, according to the documents Gaddis puts forth, the U.S. did not engage in it's multi-faceted approach against communism, not only would we be less powerful militarily today, but we may not be nearly as important in a world scale. By the both powers escalating the conflict to possibly more then it actually was, it allowed them respectively to increase things such as military spending astronomically.
Reasoning behind why the U.S. and the Soviet Union inevitably never attacked one another varies. But one prime example Gaddis entertains is the possible inherent fear we had over one another during the Cold War. This fear was bred further by the existence of nuclear capabilities during the era. Both powers had the capabilities to the kill the other more then ten times in an open nuclear war. So with the existence of nuclear war, most thought it was inevitable should the U.S. and the Soviet Union ever actually get into a war, they would bring there nuclear arms to bear. But in truth and with the realization that should a actual war begin between the two, it would quickly escalate to a nuclear one. This in turn would lead to the inevitable demise of both countries.
One aspect that Gaddis did not address too strongly was how powers outside of the United States and Soviet Union were doing to influence their decisions. For example, the United States involvement in the Vietnam war for the purposes of fulfilling a policy of containment. Or the Soviet Union involvement in Afghanistan and the viewpoint that it was an equivalent of Vietnam for the United States. This I believe is an important aspect that is not factored in to his opinion. What if Cuba had been successfully invaded during the Bay of Pigs? If the U.S. had not gotten involved in Vietnam, would communism have spread throughout the region anyway? Gaddis although not touching on this, does address how the Soviet Union and United States were sometimes forced into decisions by Satellite nations. Both had to take into account what the other would do should they not support one of their "allies". For example the U.S. involvement in the Greek revolution and how we needed to contain the spread of communism in that region.
Another answer to why this book is of importance is that a lot of history novels can be very easily deciphered by whom the author. Although this is one of John Gaddis's earlier works, many reviewers hold it with great acclaim. Added to that is the prominence that he has garnered from his subsequent works on the Cold War. Gaddis is an eminent name in not only in the topic of the Cold War, but as a historian. His delivery of the information is quite superbly done. Rather then taking a stereotypical approach and simply stating facts and leaving a reader to analyze the text, Gaddis gives us his very informative viewpoints in addition to raw information. A majority of this novel is comprised of pages and pages of the references that Gaddis used to compile his arguments. Although at a glance this is merely customary, it further shows the amount of work and dedication that Gaddis has put into this book. Any decently written historical novel will have a majority of it's references cited. This is another prime example as to why Gaddis's work is held so highly. Gaddis also achieves a degree of entertainment in his witty narratives, prefacing the analytical sections. This serves a strong purpose as it can help interest those who may not be of the strict History discipline. Finally he raises some strong questions that anyone who is a student of the Cold War area of history will be forced to generate new inquiries to old ideology.
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