About the Author

Odd Arne Westad is the S.T. Lee Professor of U.S.-Asia Relations at Harvard University, where he teaches at the Kennedy School of Government. He is an expert on contemporary international history and on the eastern Asian region. Before coming to Harvard in 2015, Westad was School Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While at LSE, he directed LSE IDEAS, a leading centre for international affairs, diplomacy and strategy. Professor Westad won the Bancroft Prize for The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. The book, which has been translated into fifteen languages, also won a number of other awards. Westad served as general editor for the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War, and is the author of the Penguin History of the World (now in its 6th edition). His most recent book, Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750, won the Asia Society’s book award for 2013. Professor Westad’s new book, The Cold War: A World History, will be published in 2017 by Basic Books in the United States and Penguin in the UK.  A new history of the global conflict between capitalism and Communism since the late 19th century, it provides the larger context for how today’s international affairs came into being.

Book Description

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the Cold War.

For over forty years the demands of the Cold War shaped the life of almost all of us. There was no part of the world where East and West did not, ultimately, demand a blind and absolute allegiance, and nowhere into which the West and East did not reach. Countries as remote from each other as Korea, Angola and Cuba were defined by their allegiances. Almost all civil wars became proxy conflicts for the superpowers. Europe was seemingly split in two indefinitely.

Arne Westad's remarkable new book is the first to have the distance from these events and the ambition to create a convincing, powerful narrative of the Cold War. The book is genuinely global in its reach and captures the dramas and agonies of a period always overshadowed by the horror of nuclear war and which, for millions of people, was not 'cold' at all: a time of relentless violence, squandered opportunities and moral failure.

This is a book of extraordinary scope and daring. It is conventional to see the first half of the 20th century as a nightmare and the second half as a reprieve. Westad shows that for much of the world the second half was by most measures even worse.

Reviews

In many ways, Westad has long argued, the Cold War made the world what it is today. His latest book is an eloquent and enjoyable defense of that proposition. - Foreign Policy

A clear and well written sumamry of a global conflict...An impressive book. -The Times

For generations, the cold war was context, the inescapable setting of political life. the history sets the Cold War itself in context, within the greater landscape of worls history, deeply understood and masterfully presented. It is a powerful synthesis by one of our greatest historians. -Timothy Snyder, Author of Bloodlands