Return to Cold War
By: Robert Legvold
Publisher: Polity Press
Publication Date: March 2016
Review by: Janice M. Ladendorf
Robert Legvold, the author of Return to Cold War is a political scientist who has spent his life studying the relationship between the United States and Russia. Unlike an historian, he views events through the lens of the application of political theories. He believes the cold war between our two countries has never ended. He justifies his theory with a new definition of a cold war. It is a situation when neither one of two contending parties can see any good in the stance of the other one. When this happens, it can end either in war or some type of negotiated settlement.
The first cold war began in 1949 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The second one began then and continues to the present day. The author admits there are some major differences between these two eras. Our counties are no longer divided by ideological differences and Russia is no longer considered a super power. Russia may have lost all of its subject counties, but it still has Siberia and it is turning out to be a rich source of coal, gas, and oil.
Legvold believes a thick residue of mistrust and unreconstructed thinking, accumulated during the first cold war, remains in place. This psychological problem, along with two other major factors led to a gradually worsening situation. One factor was the expansion of NATO into the eastern Europe countries. The other is the way Vladimir Putin's regime became more and more totalitarian. The book concludes with suggestions about how the differences between our two nations could be resolved. Some of them could be useful, while others may not be terribly realistic. Overall, the book was a good read but is definitely not a "light read." Readers should have a good understanding of the history behind the U.S./Russia relationship before delving into Return to Cold War.
Quill says: This book describes a complicated situation well, but the reader does need considerable expertise to understand the author's arguments.