This is the most significant study of the American side of the onset of the cold war since John Lewis Gaddis' The United States and the Origins of the Cold War was published in 1972. Yergin's thesis is clear and original. In 1945 a perception of Russia as a potentially cooperative great power ("the Yalta axioms") contended among American policymakers with the perception of an implacable Soviet ideology bent on world conquest ("the Riga axioms" as developed by Foreign Service officers in the 1920s and early 1930s and reintroduced after Roosevelt's death). By 1947 the Riga axioms were unchallenged. Yergin stresses the caution, confusion and defensive nature of Soviet policy. He emphasizes the primacy of military security over economics and domestic politics as the driving force behind American behavior. The book is unequalled in its exhaustive use of private papers, archives and interviews, and the footnotes contain several gems of historiographical criticism.
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