Perspectives of the Cold War

Quick research on the perspectives of the Cold War.

  • Created by: DanielGS
  • Created on: 03-04-14 16:57

Orthodox View

1950's, 1960's.

Influenced by the breakdown of the wartime alliance, expansion of Soviet power in Europe, China becoming Communist, Korean War and Mcarthyism.

Was clearly Soviet aggression that caused the cold war. USA had no choice but to meet the challenges.


Herbert Fies: 'Churchil-Roosevelt-Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought' 1957

Herbert Fies: 'From Trust to Terror: the Onset of the Cold War' 1970

Arthur Schlesinger Jr: 'Origins of the Cold War', Oct 1967.

1 of 4

Revisionist or New Left View

1960's.  Influenced by: Vietnam.

Began to question motives of the US government. Historians tended to place blame on USA rather than the USSR.Soviets did nothing more in eastern Europe than any great power would have done in terms of looking out for their national interests. Russians were merely reacting to aggressive American demands for business markets and political access.Saw US foreign policy as inherently imperialistic, response to allegedly insatiable requirements of American capitalisation.

Some moderate revisionists emphasise personalities rather than structures/institutions. Truman and the red baiter's around him are to blame for the tensions.

Examples: William Appleman Williams: 'The Tragedy of American Diplomacy', 1959

William Appleman Williams: 'The Roots of the Modern American Empire', 1969

Gabriel Kolko, Joyce Kolko: 'The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy 1945-1954', 1972

2 of 4

Post-Revisionist View

Both sides have their faults and misunderstood the other side.

Accept that Stalin was more concerned with Soviet security.

Western leaders could not be certain of what Stalin was up to, a Soviet Union preoccupied with what Stalin believed to be security could still threaten western interests therefore the western powers had legitimate concerns about the USSR. Some post-revisionists have become critical of the USSR , best described as post-revisionist/orthodox.

Examples: John lewis Gaddis: 'We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History', 1997

3 of 4

Clash of Ideologies

Another theory emerged recently.

It focusses upon ideology and their fundemental opposition of each other. This theory believes that the Cold War was inevitable because of the differences of each ideology and the bi-polar situation at the end of WW2.

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Cold War resources »