In This Review

Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945
Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy Since 1945
Edited by John Lewis Gaddis, Philip H. Gordon, Ernest R. May
Oxford University Press, 1999, 398 pp

This edited volume performs two services. First, it challenges the argument of the historian John Mueller: the long peace among the great powers since 1945 and the limited character of the Korean War were caused by a general fear of major war, not of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Mueller's argument is not adequately addressed, since the necessary counterfactuals require a careful analysis of one war (Korea) and several crises, none of which any author here examines closely. But the book better handles its second task: assembling cutting-edge historical essays on how the leading statesmen of the Cold War's first half -- Truman, Stalin, Mao, Eisenhower, Dulles, Kennedy, Khrushchev, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Adenauer -- viewed nuclear weapons. This objective is admirably attained, even though the authors (with the exception of Philip Nash) examine attitudes more than particular events. But these leaders' attitudes did evolve, perhaps none more poignantly than Dwight Eisenhower's. Andrew Erdmann writes that as Eisenhower was leaving office, this torn man "simultaneously clung to nuclear weapons tighter than ever, while trying to push them away."