cover image The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War

The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War

H. W. Brands. Oxford University Press, USA, $35 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-19-507499-4

In this thought-provoking, controversial study, Brands charges that the responsibility for fomenting the Cold War, and especially for its prolongation, rests heavily on the United States. The Cold War, he argues, was fueled by the endless search for foreign enemies by which Americans need to affirm their identity and basic goodness. The American desire to save the world, according to Brands, determined the fervor with which the Cold War was waged. He highlights the economic aspect, which, he notes, can be seen in retrospect as a massive effort to open foreign markets to U.S. products, and analyzes the Cold War as a long-running ``issue'' in American politics. With sly wit, Brands describes how Mikhail Gorbachev deprived this country of ``an enemy that could hardly have been improved upon'' and discusses the current awkward, enemy-less mode in which the U.S. finds itself as the government strives to develop a new national security agenda and politicians work out new campaign rhetoric to replace obsolete anticommunism. Brands is an assistant professor of history at Texas A & M and the author of Inside the Cold War. (Sept.)