cover image The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991

The End of the Cold War: 1985–1991

Robert Service. PublicAffairs (Perseus, dist.), $35 (656p) ISBN 978-1-61039-499-4

In this authoritative and deeply informed political and diplomatic history, Service (Trotsky), a seasoned British historian specializing in studies of Soviet Russia, delivers a masterful account of the final years of the Cold War, when a small, remarkable group of statesmen sought an end to the dangerous standoff between superpowers. Deteriorating economic conditions prompted Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to introduce radical political and economic reforms and seek rapprochement with the U.S. Meanwhile, American President Ronald Reagan, consumed by the potential horror of thermonuclear holocaust and driven by a vision of global military denuclearization, proved open to the initiatives of the Kremlin reformers. Both leaders contended with domestic sectors of resistance who grumbled at moves toward reconciliation—hard-line American right-wingers skeptical of Soviet reforms and “communist-conservative critics” in the U.S.S.R. uneasy with Gorbachev’s concessions—and pushed through a series of agreements on nuclear arms reduction. Based on deep, impressive archival research and previously unpublished material, Service strays from triumphalist narratives typical in the West, adopting a bilateral analysis that gives “equal attention to the Soviet Union and America and their interaction in a churning world of transformation.” This study of the end of a cardinal episode of modern history is scholarly yet accessible: detailed, expansive, and engaging. [em](Oct.) [/em]