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Hill and Wang, Zubok, A Failed Empire: University of North Carolina Press, cloth ; paper. Since the end of the Cold War we have seen a steady stream of scholarly accounts revealing new archival evidence and bringing us closer to understanding the year conflict. The American historian Melvyn Leffler approaches the Cold War through five "moments" during which the actions and inactions of Soviet and American leaders could have changed—and eventually did transform—the course of the Cold War.

Although the conflict ended almost 20 years ago, we are still debating the basic political history of the Cold War. The social and cultural history of the Cold War is rather marginal, and the focus in Cold War research remains primarily on national leaders, decision making, and global politics.

Khrushchev's cold war : the inside story of an American adversary

Still, there are some strong signs in Leffler and especially Zubok that methodologies other than traditional political history, fresh approaches, and new research questions are starting to interest and influence Cold War historians. One can even argue that it is no longer acceptable only to bring forth new evidence about the inner workings of the Cold War but that to tell the "whole story," historians of the period increasingly have to take into account research on, for example, cultural and public diplomacy, consumption, travel, youth, and cultural and technological transfer.

These topics add multiple layers to the otherwise traditional political narrative.


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  • New approaches manifest themselves in the works by Zubok and Leffler through their emphasis on the role of ideology and their conclusion that, more than any other factor, ideology influenced the decision making of Soviet and American leaders from Stalin to Gorbachev. Their analyses of the fears, anxieties, and ambitions that affected national leaders and decision making during the Cold War show that above and beyond contingency ideology, and to a lesser extent human agency, played a major role in the unfolding of the Cold War If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'.

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      Building on increased access to such material, they develop a fascinating picture of the inner dynamics of the Soviet state and its leadership during the Khrushchev era that far surpasses anything U. They make a convincing case that Khrushchev's major, post-Stalin reorientation of Soviet foreign policy was rooted in competition on the global playing field and a policy of social regeneration at home , along with a need to cloak the U.

      This volatile combination reinforces a strategy of bluffs and brinkmanship in several Cold War crises between and in the Middle East, Central Europe and the Caribbean.

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      Yet perhaps most surprisingly, Khrushchev's foreign policy despite an energy that, when unchecked, "tended toward recklessness" came with a genuine desire for peaceful coexistence between the superpowers not seen again until Gorbachev.