These essays are sketches from a major work in progress-a study of international politics in the first two postwar decades. More important, they represent an innovation in historical scholarship. Nuclear strategy, to Trachtenberg, seemed elegant but so abstract as to make it almost unimaginable that any real statesman was influenced by it. Yet historians typically succumbed to the opposite fallacy, assuming political intentions were paramount and, in Bernadotte Schmidt's words, "the details of military preparations. . . are of small consequence." The sketches look hard at whether decisions in particular instances were influenced by, for instance, trends in the strategic balance as a strategist might see them; admirably, they let the chips fall where they may.