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Capsule Review

The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times

In This Review

The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times
By Odd Arne Westad
Cambridge University Press, 2005 488 pp. $35.00 Purchase

The Cold War began and ended in Europe, but some of its most severe effects were felt in the Third World. Despite the fact that both the United States and the Soviet Union could claim impressive anticolonial credentials, they viewed the upheavals set in motion by decolonization as an extension of their confrontation. The consequent interventions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America tended to extend and accentuate local quarrels, with dismal consequences for all. In the end, it was Moscow's blundering into Afghanistan that hastened the collapse of the Soviet system. Westad's account is sharply observed and deeply researched, providing rounded accounts of the most prominent conflicts with a deep sympathy for those on the receiving end of interventions. As an exposition of Soviet decision-making relating to the Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions and Afghanistan, this book is superb: few scholars could match Westad's mastery of the sources. The material on the United States is not as sure, but the cumulative indictment is formidable nonetheless.

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