17 June 2010
Cold War book gains Pulitzer commendation
America and the Cold War, 1941-1991: A Realist Interpretation.
Professor Joseph Siracusa.
A sweeping two-volume account of the Cold War, co-authored by an RMIT University academic, has been commended for the Pulitzer Prize in Letters.
What were the origins of the Cold War? What policies fuelled it? Why did the Cold War perpetuate the nuclear arms race? How did it end? Who “won” and why does it matter?
These are some of the questions addressed by America and the Cold War, 1941-1991: A Realist Interpretation, co-authored by Professor Joseph Siracusa, Associate Dean, International and Justice Studies, in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning.
Published in two volumes by Praeger Security International, America and the Cold War is a sweeping historical account that focuses on the policy differences at the centre of this conflict.
The book has been commended to the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University in the category of Pulitzer Prize in Letters. Nominations will be announced next April.
Professor Siracusa’s fellow authors are Norman Graebner, Randolph P Compton Professor of History and Public Affairs, emeritus, at the University of Virginia, a leading exponent of the realist school in the study of American diplomacy; and Richard Dean Burns, the doyen of American arms control and professor emeritus of history at California State University.
"The book offers an examination of contemporary criticism of the Cold War, documenting the views of observers who appreciated that many policies of the period were not only dangerous, but could not resolve the very problems they contemplated," Professor Siracusa said.
The study provides a comprehensive chronicle of US-Soviet relations, from World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It locates the origins of the Cold War in the contentious issues of World War II and stresses the failure of Washington to understand or seriously seek settlement of those issues.
It points out how nuclear weaponry gradually assumed political stature and came to dominate high-level, Soviet-American diplomatic activity, at the same time discounting the notion that the Cold War was a global ideological confrontation for the future of civilisation.
A concluding chapter draws lessons from the Cold War decades, showing how they apply to dealing with nation-states and terrorist groups today.
The book has won significant endorsements, including:
- "Comprehensive, deeply researched, and utterly persuasive." - Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston University, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
- "These three leading realist historians of US foreign relations reveal with clinical and devastating clarity the huge gap that existed between the rhetoric and reality of US policy during the Cold War." - Dr Ian J Bickerton, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, School of History and Philosophy, University of NSW
- "Powerful and penetrating, this critique of US behavior in the Cold War documents how persistent anti-communism dictated imprecise policies ensuring frustration and failure." - James I Matray, California State University, Chico
- "In this deeply researched, clearly written work … three distinguished authors … [provide] both a comprehensive narrative and a challenging realist interpretation of the Cold War." - Walter LaFeber, The Andrew and James Tisch University Professor Emeritus, Cornell University
America and the Cold War is available to RMIT staff and students on the Praeger Security International Online website, through the RMIT Library.