A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963
By Marc Trachtenberg
Princeton University Press, 1999, 448 pp.
Trachtenberg has written an authoritative history of the German Question during the first half of the Cold War. He skillfully handles the dependent issues of European defense and nuclear strategy, so the book's reach is broad. His research in American, British, and French archives is solid. But Trachtenberg is tempted to impose unitary coherence on more disorderly national and individual purposes. His knowledge of the Russian side is also (often necessarily) limited. This handicap, and his limited work with German materials, is especially apparent in his provocative emphasis on German nuclear ambitions as the cause and propellant of the Berlin crisis, abetted by uncertainty over Eisenhower's commitment to defending Europe. But the work's originality, and the way it recaptures how issues were linked in the minds of policymakers, makes it the leading general history of the early Cold War in Europe.