Cold War Study Guide

Nicole Marie Ascano 10310850 HIST 4381 October 24, 2012 History As We Know It Writing about the already written history of the Cold War events have been relatively challenging due to numerous circumstances. Not only are authors biased, but there has also been difficulty in getting primary sources because of national security. Also, Soviet and Chinese documents had previously been cut off, as well as some of the information from their allies. Much of the Cold War history includes different historiographical approaches to the subject, with many historians fitting into a certain school of historiography.

In John Gaddis’ We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, he doesn’t write about the entire overview of the Cold War but instead goes over the struggles through a comparative history stemming from the early beginnings to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He doesn’t necessarily answer new questions, but reinterprets them with the new information that has come out since the war had ended. His approach in his book in explaining the Cold War falls under Post-Detente Historiography. Of course as more information is continuously coming out, Gaddis book doesn’t necessarily have the freshest or newest answers.

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Dr. Faubion’s lectures in the Cold War also fits in the Post-Detente school, as he covers most of the recent information that has since come out.

Post-Detente is historiography that is dated from the 1980s to present day, and usually puts equal blame for the US and the Soviet Union. As stated before, there is a considerable amount of different interpretations when it comes to the Cold War, and Gaddis goes on to take an approach of post-revisionism. Post-revisionists accepted some of the revisionists’ findings but often rejected much of the key claims.

Gaddis not only focuses on the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States, but also goes into the roles of other countries such as Germany, China, and North Korea. He has new information that wasn’t known before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and comes to a reasonable conclusion that is backed by factual sources.

Gaddis goes over what is new about the Cuban Missile Crisis, including it being “a more important turning-point than we had earlier believed it to be” (pg. 261). Gaddis emphasized ideology and political principles and was able to retell the story through the minds and actions of the individual leaders.

Personally, post-revisionism or post-detente is where I would place myself when it comes to studying the Cold War. Just like in Gaddis’ book, he had revisited the struggle of the Cold War and goes through how both sides drove the progressions of the war. In the text, Gaddis discovers that both the United States and USSR’s policies were to a certain degree shapes by interaction with their respective allies.

Overall, Gaddis provides a solid reinterpretation and analysis of a subject that had previous been one-sided since of all the challenges that came with writing about the Cold War.

He goes into explaining all sides of the Cold War, from China’s role and to investigating nuclear weapons and the Third World. Though he doesn’t completely address why and how the Cold War had ended, his does do a fairly good job in focusing on intense first half of the war. Though he does a good job in visiting all sides of the war, he still refuses to give any blame to the US for its inability to stop Stalin before things escalated. Gaddis still concludes if blame could be put into the hands of a single person, it would be put in Stalin’s.