The Origins of the Cold War in Europe: International Perspectives

In This Review

The Origins of the Cold War in Europe: International Perspectives

Edited by David Reynolds
Yale University Press, 1994
271 pp. $27.50

This compendium is a welcome addition to the still-burgeoning literature on the origins of the Cold War. Its merit is to provide detailed assessments of the scholarly literature produced in the United States, Russia, and Western Europe on the first decade after 1945, much of which is unavailable in English. The opening essay on the voluminous American literature by Anders Stephanson is an excellent historiographical review; that on the Soviet Union, by Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, understandably takes a different course. The authors, handicapped by the general worthlessness of pre-1990 Soviet literature and the still sharply limited access to Russian archives, concentrate on an able and dispassionate examination of Stalin's personality, motives, and outlook (a crucial question given his total dominance, and one on which, the authors note, further archival access may not shed much light). They doubt that there were any "missed opportunities to make a post-war peace with Stalin." The subsequent essays on Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Benelux countries, and Scandinavia richly develop the interplay between domestic and external pressures in shaping the European response to the emerging stalemate, revealing the first decade of the Cold War to be the scene of multifarious debates within the West hardly conforming to the normal caricatured description: bipolarity.

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