In This Review

Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall
Russia's Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Fall of the Wall
By Jonathan Haslam
Yale University Press, 2011, 544 pp

This is both the first full-scale history of the Soviet Union's role in the Cold War and a new history of Soviet foreign policy from 1917 to 1989. Many excellent studies have mined the archives to shed light on different aspects of the Cold War, but until this book, none has traced the history in such a seamless, comprehensive fashion. Haslam not only exploited familiar archives but also prowled through a prodigiously wide range of unexplored archival material, including the private papers of key participants. What he discovered in the previously untapped testimony of aides and subordinates to key Soviet officials offers the most interesting and surprising insights into Soviet decision-making. On the larger picture, he dissents from those who dismiss the impact of ideology and view Soviet behavior as primarily a function of either Stalin's personality or a narrow but aggressive raison d'état. He also, however, has no patience for those who believe that Soviet ideology had more to do with fear and misperception than ambition, and who, therefore, underestimate the aggressive side to the ideological impulse.