In This Review

Cold War Illusions: America, Europe, and Soviet Power: 1969-1989
Cold War Illusions: America, Europe, and Soviet Power: 1969-1989
By Dana H. Allin
260 pp, St. Martin's Press, 1995

Who won the Cold War? is a question that continues to attract a cottage industry of books and essays. Allin, deputy director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, is intent on denying the trophy to neoconservatives, whose analysis of Soviet power in the 1970s and 1980s, he argues, badly misread the significance of the Soviet buildup in nuclear forces, grossly overestimated West European temptations toward neutrality, and in general combined bad advice with distorted analysis during the concluding phase of the Cold War. Allin's basic contention -- that containment and deterrence provided a workable shield behind which the flourishing societies of the West might highlight the internal rot of the Soviet system -- is persuasive. The fact remains, however, that the Reagan-Bush Republicans, strongly influenced by more alarmist depictions of the Cold War struggle, presided over its end. Allin contends that Republican policy delayed rather than hastened this victory, a provocative hypothesis that will be sharply contested.