Catalogue


Reconstructing the Cold War : the early years, 1945 - 1958 /
Ted Hopf.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, [2012].
description
ix, 305 p. ; 25 cm
ISBN
0199858489 (hardback : alkaline paper), 9780199858484 (hardback : alkaline paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, [2012].
isbn
0199858489 (hardback : alkaline paper)
9780199858484 (hardback : alkaline paper)
contents note
Stalinism after the war: a discourse of danger, 1945-53 -- Stalinʹs foreign policy: the discourse of danger abroad, 1945-53 -- The thaw at home, 1953-58 -- The thaw abroad, 1953-58.
catalogue key
8376925
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 269-289) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-12-01:
Hopf (National Univ. of Singapore) offers several preliminary notions in arguing for a "societal/institutional/revisionist constructivist" theory of "reality" that explains Soviet relationships with other states from 1945 to 1958. First, there is no "Soviet Union," only a "Soviet identity." Second, how the Soviets understood themselves domestically "explains how [they] related to other states." Third, "systemic constructivism is as unsuited to explain Soviet relations with other states ... as any other systemic theory would be." His intentionally middle-range theoretical look at the societal origins of Soviet domestic and foreign behavior is inventive and heuristic. Yet its creativity is also its weakness, as societal constructivism merely highlights a domestically oriented perspective on why the Soviets acted as they did in the Cold War in their pursuit of victory and the spread of societal reconstruction. Hopf hypothesizes two discourses that drove Soviet behavior: Stalin's discourse of danger from the outside, and Khrushchev's discourse of difference (i.e., tolerating "difference" within the socialist camp and the world.) Realists may find it difficult to welcome the social constructivist and domestic-actor emphasis. But this is an interesting mix of theoretical and historical explanations of foreign policy's domestic sources. Recommended for libraries focusing on Soviet studies or international relations theory. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate, graduate, and research readers. L. S. Hulett Knox College
Reviews
Review Quotes
an interesting mix of theoretical and historical explanations of foreign policy's domestic sources.
"Ted Hopf uses a sophisticated and nuanced societal constructivist approach to illuminate Soviet understandings and motivations in the years of the Cold War. By combining discursive analysis with a serious investigation of institutions, he demonstrates that the Stalinist state discourse of capitalist danger to state socialism, which dominated in official views until Stalin's death in 1953, was replaced by an alternative discourse of difference that allowed for greater variety and tolerance within the socialist camp. Taking identities as fundamental to foreign policy, Hopf illustrates their profound effects on the choices made by the Soviet leaders. From his unique perspective, he is able to go beyond conventional neorealist accounts and lay out an original new approach to understanding the origins of the Cold War. This is a work that breaks through the impasses of old-style Sovietology and enlivens our debates and understanding."--Rondald Grigor Suny, author of The Soviet Experiment "A uniquely audacious book that marshaled findings of Soviet political, social, and even cultural history to demonstrate the power of a Constructivist theory in the analysis of the Cold War. The effort of an international relations theorist to break interdisciplinary partitions and get to the nitty-gritty of domestic scenery must be applauded."--Vladislav Zubok, author of A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2012
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This title explores how the early years of the Cold War were marked by contradictions and conflict. It looks at how the turn from Stalin's discourse of danger to the discourse of difference under his successors explains the abrupt changes in relations with Eastern Europe, China, the decolonizing world, and the West.
Main Description
General answers are hard to imagine for the many puzzling questions that are raised by Soviet relations with the world in the early years of the Cold War. Why was Moscow more frightened by the Marshall Plan than the Truman Doctrine? Why would the Soviet Union abandon its closest socialist ally, Yugoslavia, just when the Cold War was getting under way? How could Khrushchev's de-Stalinized domestic and foreign policies at first cause a warming of relations with China, and then lead to the loss of its most important strategic ally? What can explain Stalin's failure to ally with the leaders of the decolonizing world against imperialism and Khrushchev's enthusiastic embrace of these leaders as anti-imperialist at a time of the first detente of the Cold War? It would seem that only idiosyncratic explanations could be offered for these seemingly incoherent policy outcomes. Or, at best, they could be explained by the personalities of Stalin and Khrushchev as leaders. The latter, although plausible, is incorrect. In fact, the most Stalinist of Soviet leaders, the secret police chief and sociopath, Lavrentii Beria, was the most enthusiastic proponent of a de-Stalinized foreign and domestic policies after Stalin's death in March 1953. Ted Hopf argues, instead, that it was Soviet identity that explains these anomalies. During Stalin's rule, a discourse of danger prevailed in Soviet society, where any deviations from the idealized version of the New Soviet Man, were understood as threatening the very survival of the Soviet project itself. But the discourse of danger did not go unchallenged. Even under the rule of Stalin, Soviet society understood a socialist Soviet Union as a more secure, diverse, and socially democratic place. This discourse of difference, with its broader conception of what the socialist project meant, and who could contribute to it, was empowered after Stalin's death, first by Beria, then by Malenkov, and then by Khrushchev, and the rest of the post-Stalin Soviet leadership. This discourse of difference allowed for the de-Stalinization of Eastern Europe, with the consequent revolts in Poland and Hungary, a rapprochement with Tito's Yugoslavia, and an initial warming of relations with China. But it also sowed the seeds of the split with China, as the latter moved in the very Stalinist direction at home just rejected by Moscow. And, contrary to conventional and scholarly wisdom, a moderation of authoritarianism at home, a product of the discourse of difference, did not lead to a moderation of Soviet foreign policy abroad. Instead, it led to the opening of an entirely new, and bloody, front in the decolonizing world. In sum, this book argues for paying attention to how societies understand themselves, even in the most repressive of regimes. Who knows, their ideas about national identity, might come to power sometime, as was the case in Iran in 1979, and throughout the Arab world today.
Main Description
General answers are hard to imagine for the many puzzling questions that are raised by Soviet relations with the world in the early years of the Cold War. Why was Moscow more frightened by the Marshall Plan than the Truman Doctrine? Why would the Soviet Union abandon its closest socialist ally, Yugoslavia, just when the Cold War was getting under way? How could Khrushchev's de-Stalinized domestic and foreign policies at first cause a warming of relations with China, and then lead to the loss of its most important strategic ally? What can explain Stalin's failure to ally with the leaders of the decolonizing world against imperialism and Khrushchev's enthusiastic embrace of these leaders as anti-imperialist at a time of the first detente of the Cold War? It would seem that only idiosyncratic explanations could be offered for these seemingly incoherent policy outcomes. Or, at best, they could be explained by the personalities of Stalin and Khrushchev as leaders. The latter, although plausible, is incorrect. In fact, the most Stalinist of Soviet leaders, the secret police chief and sociopath, Lavrentii Beria, was the most enthusiastic proponent of a de-Stalinized foreign and domestic policies after Stalin's death in March 1953. Ted Hopf argues, instead, that it was Soviet identity that explains these anomalies. During Stalin's rule, a discourse of danger prevailed in Soviet society, where any deviations from the idealized version of the New Soviet Man, were understood as threatening the very survival of the Soviet project itself. But the discourse of danger did not go unchallenged. Even under the rule of Stalin, Soviet society understood a socialist Soviet Union as a more secure, diverse, and socially democratic place. This discourse of difference, with its broader conception of what the socialist project meant, and who could contribute to it, was empowered after Stalin's death, first by Beria, then by Malenkov, and then by Khrushchev, and the rest ofthe post-Stalin Soviet leadership. This discourse of difference allowed for the de-Stalinization of Eastern Europe, with the consequent revolts in Poland and Hungary, a rapprochement with Tito's Yugoslavia, and an initial warming of relations with China. But it also sowed the seeds of the split with China, as the latter moved in the very Stalinist direction at home just rejected by Moscow. And, contrary to conventional and scholarly wisdom, a moderation of authoritarianism at home, a product of the discourse of difference, did not lead to a moderation of Soviet foreign policy abroad. Instead, it led to the opening of an entirely new, and bloody, front in the decolonizing world. In sum, this book argues for paying attention to how societies understand themselves, even in the most repressive of regimes. Who knows, their ideas about national identity, might come to power sometime, as was the case in Iran in 1979, and throughout the Arab world today.
Main Description
General answers are hard to imagine for the many puzzling questions that are raised by Soviet relations with the world in the early years of the Cold War. Why was Moscow more frightened by the Marshall Plan than the Truman Doctrine? Why would the Soviet Union abandon its closest socialistally, Yugoslavia, just when the Cold War was getting under way? How could Khrushchev's de-Stalinized domestic and foreign policies at first cause a warming of relations with China, and then lead to the loss of its most important strategic ally? What can explain Stalin's failure to ally with theleaders of the decolonizing world against imperialism and Khrushchev's enthusiastic embrace of these leaders as anti-imperialist at a time of the first detente of the Cold War? It would seem that only idiosyncratic explanations could be offered for these seemingly incoherent policy outcomes. Or, at best, they could be explained by the personalities of Stalin and Khrushchev as leaders. The latter, although plausible, is incorrect. In fact, the most Stalinist of Sovietleaders, the secret police chief and sociopath, Lavrentii Beria, was the most enthusiastic proponent of a de-Stalinized foreign and domestic policies after Stalin's death in March 1953.Ted Hopf argues, instead, that it was Soviet identity that explains these anomalies. During Stalin's rule, a discourse of danger prevailed in Soviet society, where any deviations from the idealized version of the New Soviet Man, were understood as threatening the very survival of the Soviet projectitself. But the discourse of danger did not go unchallenged. Even under the rule of Stalin, Soviet society understood a socialist Soviet Union as a more secure, diverse, and socially democratic place. This discourse of difference, with its broader conception of what the socialist project meant, andwho could contribute to it, was empowered after Stalin's death, first by Beria, then by Malenkov, and then by Khrushchev, and the rest of the post-Stalin Soviet leadership. This discourse of difference allowed for the de-Stalinization of Eastern Europe, with the consequent revolts in Poland andHungary, a rapprochement with Tito's Yugoslavia, and an initial warming of relations with China. But it also sowed the seeds of the split with China, as the latter moved in the very Stalinist direction at home just rejected by Moscow. And, contrary to conventional and scholarly wisdom, a moderationof authoritarianism at home, a product of the discourse of difference, did not lead to a moderation of Soviet foreign policy abroad. Instead, it led to the opening of an entirely new, and bloody, front in the decolonizing world. In sum, this book argues for paying attention to how societies understand themselves, even in the most repressive of regimes. Who knows, their ideas about national identity, might come to power sometime, as was the case in Iran in 1979, and throughout the Arab world today.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 3
Stalinism after the War: A Discourse of Danger, 1945p. 29
Stalin's Foreign Policy: The Discourse of Danger Abroad, 1945-53p. 72
The Thaw at Home, 1953-58p. 143
The Thaw Abroad, 1953-58p. 198
Conclusionsp. 254
Referencesp. 269
Indexp. 291
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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