Europe and the End of the Cold War: A Reappraisal

In This Review

Europe and the End of the Cold War: A Reappraisal
Edited by Frederic Bozo, Marie-Pierre Rey, N. Piers Ludlow,
Routledge, 2008
256 pp. $160.00
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This volume exemplifies the new "international history" of 1989 -- more multilingual and more attentive to social and cultural underpinnings than traditional diplomatic history. Nineteen historians, many of them young, analyze the policies of different countries, drawing on sources in local languages and archives. The overwhelming impression of the period is one of leaders struggling unsuccessfully to maintain control, first by attempting to retard the process of German reunification and then by seeking to synchronize a German settlement with a deal on some overarching structure, perhaps a "common European home." Instead, the outcome came quickly; those who had the most influence were those who improvised best. This perspective demolishes some conventional myths. The volume's contributors show that there was no quid pro quo, as many still believe, between Germany's demand for reunification and France's demand for a single EU currency. They portray the British foreign policy bureaucracy, contrary to its reputation, as actively supportive of German reunification -- with the sole exception of Margaret Thatcher. And they offer new insights into why Mikhail Gorbachev unconditionally assented to a reunited Germany within NATO. In the end, the contributors hint that the existing NATO and German structures won out, above all, simply because there was no legitimate alternative to them.