• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Leffler and Gaddis on the Cold War

Extracts from this document...


Ashley Williams September 6, 2006 HIST 295 - Schwartz Assignment 1 Leffler and Gaddis on the Cold War John Lewis Gaddis' The Cold War and Melvyn Leffler's The Specter of Communism share a topic, but offer two very dissimilar approaches to the study of the Cold War. In The Cold War Gaddis presents a detailed illustration of the ways in which the United States and Soviet Union, through an inevitable clash of ideologies, came to blows throughout the last half of the twentieth century. Gaddis takes a decisive stance on the events that transpired, pitting the wholesomeness of American values against the near-apocalyptic threat that the expansion of Soviet influence posed. Ultimately, Gaddis paints a picture of how the shortsightedness of Marxist ideology and the shortcomings of Soviet leaders set the stage for the West to triumph over communism. Leffler's book chronicles the ways in which Cold War politics shaped not only the United States' relationship with its communist neighbors, but also the way in which it has influenced American domestic politics. Central to Leffler's argument is the notion that the United States responded so ardently to the threat of communism because, for a number of reasons, the nation simply could not ...read more.


In light of the atrocities that Stalin had exacted in the course of his rampage to collectivization, many Americans became unable to dissociate Stalin's terror from the political framework of communist ideology. As communism came to be seen as a force of evil, many Americans began to fear that it was as pertinent a threat to their way of life as that of Nazi totalitarianism.3 Politicians seized upon their constituents' passionate anti-communist attitudes and quickly began to manipulate these anxieties to their advantage. Anti-communist rhetoric became an element essential to almost all political dialogues and seriously streamlined the sport of mud slinging, for nothing could more significantly discredit an opponent than an accusation of involvement with the Communist party. Leffler points out that the Truman administration, as well, took note of the value of the public's polar vision of ideological good and evil. Communism, not unlike the threat of fascism in World War II, became the adversarial force against which Americans found themselves able to reconcile and define their own disparate systems of values. With this menace the horizon, things that could be characterized as clearly "American," "free," or "good" became much more obvious and simple to identify. ...read more.


2 Gaddis credits Kennan with having been the architect of Cold War strategy (29). 3 Leffler, 69. "In the minds of Americans, Soviet communism was no different than Nazi totalitarianism." Leffler uses this statement to suggest that for Harry Truman, the Cold War and the Soviet Union would be fill the role that World War II and the Third Reich had for Roosevelt. 4 Leffler, 58. "This transfer of Western Europe, the second greatest industrial area in the world, and of the essential regions which must inevitably follow such a lead, that a weakened United Kingdom could not resist so powerful a current, the shift would be cataclysmic." 5 In his assessment of the Marshall Plan, Gaddis makes note of the challenge inherent in trying to support a system of free trade while waging a campaign to limit the spread of ideology. "The Cold War experience showed, though, that it is not always easy to keep markets open and ideas constrained at the same time" (265). 6 Leffler, 129. Leffler presents a cynical view of American motives in noting that the American goal during the Cold War was more to protect its own interests than to ensure the freedom of its neighbors abroad. ?? ?? ?? ?? 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. The Cold War was a big rivalry that developed after World War II.

    This Truman Doctrine came out of a speech the Truman gave to a joint session of congress. It was the response Truman gave to Britain, which delcared that they no longer could give military and economic aid to Greece.(9) In this speech Truman finally gave the Cold War official status,

  2. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    Hence, after promising Stalin a second front in August 1942, Roosevelt had to withdraw the pledge and ask for delay of the second front until the spring of 1943. When that date arrived, he was forced to pull back yet again for political and logistical reasons.

  1. China's Relationship With The West

    China wants to join the World Trade Organisation but they feel like they are under a lot of pressure because the West wants to make their human rights record a condition of entry. 2. The Opium Wars The Opium Wars are two wars fought between Britain and China in the early 19th century.

  2. A Hollywood Perspective of the Cold War.

    By this time, it was also possible for American movies to show Russians in a favorable light. During the 1970's and 1980's Hollywood movies took the view that only a few renegades threatened world peace and that men of goodwill on both sides could work together towards peace.

  1. History of the United States

    the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. In December 1776, Gen. George WASHINGTON reversed the early trend of American defeats by a stunning victory at Trenton, N.J. (see TRENTON, BATTLE OF). Thereafter, as the fighting wore on and the cause survived, Washington became in America and abroad a symbol of strength and great bravery.

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    Therefore, when Israel started to withdraw in late March, it refused to relinquish all of the territory it had conquered in southern Lebanon to UNIFIL. Instead, Israel turned over an enclave to its proxy force, the SLA, increasing the area under Major Haddad's control.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work