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For the Soul of Mankind : The United States,…
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For the Soul of Mankind : The United States, the Soviet Union, and the…

by Melvyn P. Leffler

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809097176, Hardcover)

To the amazement of the public, pundits, and even the policymakers themselves, the ideological and political conflict that had endangered the world for half a century came to an end in 1990. How did that happen? What caused the cold war in the first place, and why did it last as long as it did?

The distinguished historian Melvyn P. Leffler homes in on four crucial episodes when American and Soviet leaders considered modulating, avoiding, or ending hostilities and asks why they failed: Stalin and Truman devising new policies after 1945; Malenkov and Eisenhower exploring the chance for peace after Stalin’s death in 1953; Kennedy, Khrushchev, and LBJ trying to reduce tensions after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; and Brezhnev and Carter aiming to sustain détente after the Helsinki Conference of 1975. All these leaders glimpsed possibilities for peace, yet they allowed ideologies, political pressures, the expectations of allies and clients, the dynamics of the international system, and their own fearful memories to trap them in a cycle of hostility that seemed to have no end.

Leffler’s important book illuminates how Reagan, Bush, and, above all, Gorbachev finally extricated themselves from the policies and mind-sets that had imprisoned their predecessors, and were able to reconfigure Soviet-American relations after decades of confrontation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:29:02 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The public, the pundits, and even the policy-makers were amazed when the ideological and political conflict that had endangered the world for half a century came to an end in 1990. How did it happen? And why had the Cold War lasted so long? In his new book, Melvyn P. Leffler offers an interpretation, much of it based on newly released archives, of what President George H. W. Bush has called "a struggle for the soul of mankind."" "Leffler homes in on four crucial episodes when American and Soviet leaders considered modulating, avoiding, or ending hostilities and asks why they failed: Stalin and Truman devising new policies in the seasons right after the Allied victory in 1945; Malenkov and Eisenhower exploring the chance for peace after Stalin's death in 1955; Kennedy, Khruschchev, and LBJ trying to reduce tensions after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; and Brezhnev and Carter aiming to sustain detente after the Helsinki Conference of 1975. All these leaders glimpsed the possibilities for peace, yet, Leffler argues, they allowed ideologies, political pressures, the expectations of allies and clients, the dynamics of the international system, and their own fearful memories to trap them in a cycle of hostility that seemed to have no end." "Despite these inflexibilities and failures, by the 1980s Reagan, Bush, and above all, Gorbachev were finally able to extricate themselves from the policies and mind-sets that had imprisoned their predecessors. Leffler's analysis shows how this reconfiguration of the bipolar world came about, after decades of confrontation, and how important the victory was - not just for the two superpowers but for the entire globe."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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