From time to time, all historians are asked—sometimes innocently, sometimes cynically, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek—since facts are facts, why keep writing about the same period in history? The answer, of course, is that the availability of new information and changes in contemporary context produce new knowledge and different interpretations. For this reason, revising a book written years earlier is a very interesting exercise.
Much has happened since 1988 to affect our perspective on American political life in the years 1945 to 1960. Of greatest importance, the Cold War has ended, thereby posing a possibility for seeing through a different prism the decisions and stances taken by American presidents and policymakers in the years after 1945. The world has become much more of a global entity, less concerned with balances of power than in connectivities. At the same time, the eyes of the world have turned increasingly to events in the Middle East, which has become the seeming crucible of conflict. These changes in “context” have led me to give more attention in this edition to the issues of Palestine and Israel in the late 1940s and to the challenges posed by Arab nationalism in the 1950s than in the original version, as well as to try to distinguish more sharply between “short-term” (i.e., Cold War) factors operating in that region and the longer-term issues at stake there.
And with the ending of the Cold War, significant new sources from “the other side” have become available for use by historians.