Cold War Triumphalism: The Misuse of History After the Fall of Communism

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9781565848993: Cold War Triumphalism: The Misuse of History After the Fall of Communism
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The historical and ideological roots of right-wing dogma are exposed in this collection of essays by some of America's leading historians of foreign policy and the Cold War era, countering the triumphalist account of the political struggles of the Cold War.

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About the Author:

Ellen Schrecker is a professor of history at Yeshiva University. One of the nation's leading historians of the Cold War period, she is the author of Many Are the Crimes.

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The contributors to this collection are after big game: the American sense of triumphalism that followed the end of Soviet communism. Coming from the political left, they attack the claims of those who believe America's military might, market economy and its values explain and justify its pre-eminence. They succeed in rendering more complex the origins and costs of U.S. dominance in the world. Two of the most successful essays, by Leo Ribuffo and Bruce Cumings, take on the intellectual difficulties with the right's historical explanations for the collapse of Soviet communism. Two other sparkling essays, by Jessica Wang and Chalmers Johnson, respectively, clarify how cooperative internationalism has long been a powerful theme of American foreign relations and how the Cold War has never ended in East Asia and Latin America. Yet too many of the authors have yielded to ideological temptations, which distort understanding of the past. Carolyn Eisenberg, for instance, argues that the U.S. caused Germany's division and the Berlin crisis in the late 1940s. Her case is plausible as a prosecutor's brief but inadequate as history, which requires acknowledgment of other positions and what strengths they may possess. Yet despite imbalance, this collection performs a valuable service. No one interested in the origins, costs and benefits of American hegemony can overlook it.
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