Between 1945 and 1991, tension between the USA, its allies, and a group of nations led by the USSR, dominated world politics. This period was called the Cold War – a conflict that stopped short to a full-blown war.
Benefiting from the recent research of newly open archives, the Encyclopedia of the Cold War discusses how this state of perpetual tensions arose, developed, and was resolved. This work examines the military, economic, diplomatic, and political evolution of the conflict as well as its impact on the different regions and cultures of the world. Using a unique geopolitical approach that will present Russian perspectives and others, the work covers all aspects of the Cold War, from communism to nuclear escalation and from UFOs to red diaper babies, highlighting its vast-ranging and lasting impact on international relations as well as on daily life. Although the work will focus on the 1945–1991 period, it will explore the roots of the conflict, starting with the formation of the Soviet state, and its legacy to the present day.
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Jeremi Suri is E. Gordon Fox Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Qiang Zhai is professor of history at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama.
This encyclopedia presents “new” cold war research that takes a “holistic” view of a complex era in world history. With access to Soviet Union and other archives, historians are now able to look at the era with new eyes and views that are not predicated on a U.S. foreign-policy focus. The introduction to this work describes it as “multi-archival, cultural, and global.” Contributed by 191 scholars, the 424 entries are alphabetically arranged, two columns per page. Entries range from one column to several pages in length, and most include see also references to other entries as well as short further-reading lists. The index, repeated at the back of each volume, is impressive in scope and an ideal finding aid for someone interested in particular key topics that may be interspersed through the work. The content is impressive. The expected topics, which include key players, countries, organizations, conflicts, concepts, and treaties, are well documented and described. Entries are expanded beyond the usual cold war countries to include those that were either tangentially or directly affected by cold war activities. Most of the Middle East countries have entries, as do Asian and African nations, such as Ethiopia, Syria, and Zanzibar. The impact of the cold war on culture is of particular note, and entries such as Cinema, Literature, Music, Radio, and Television show how the tools of culture were used for propaganda as well as protest. All entries are meant to “illuminate the complex web of personal involvement, national ambition, ideological motivations, cultural manifestations, economic conditions, and geopolitical strategies that make up the Cold War.” The Encyclopedia of the Cold War: A Political, Social, and Military History (ABC-CLIO, 2007), the first reference source to take advantage of newly declassified material, has many more entries along with 350 illustrations and 171 documents, which may make it more appealing to public library patrons and undergraduate students. (A smaller version, Cold War: A Student Encyclopedia, is designed for high-schoolers.) Encyclopedia of the Cold War is a well-researched and documented work that is recommended for large public and academic libraries. --Terri Tomchyshyn
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