The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War

By John Lewis Gaddis | Go to book overview

Preface

This book shows what happens when curiosity and serendipity combine with shameless opportunism. The curiosity grew out of my sense that an earlier and conceptually more ambitious analysis of postwar United States national security policy had nonetheless left certain questions unresolved: What exactly had Americans found threatening about Soviet behavior at the end of World War II? Did Washington really want a sphere of influence in postwar Europe, or did it not? How was it that the Truman administration endorsed, but then almost immediately backed away from, a strategy of avoiding military commitments on the Asian mainland? Why did the United States refrain from using nuclear weapons during the decade in which it was immune to any possibility of a Soviet retaliatory attack? Did American officials really believe in the existence of an international communist "monolith"? How did Russians and Americans fall into the habit of not attempting to shoot down each other's reconnaissance satellites? And, most important, why, given the unprecedented levels of super-power tension that have existed since 1945, has World War III not occurred?

The serendipity came in three forms: First, the progress of declassification brought about the release, in vast quantities, of once-secret American and British documents that made it possible to begin to answer these questions. Second, it has been my good fortune to have participated in a series of conferences and symposia -- in locations as diverse as Kiev, Beijing, Oslo, Palo

____________________
Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy ( New York: 1982).

-vii-

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