The Cold War

The Cold War

A New History


Why did the Cold War erupt so soon after the Second World War? How did it escalate so rapidly, spanning five continents over six decades? And what led to the spectacular collapse of the Soviet Union?

In this comprehensive guide to the most widespread conflict in contemporary history, Vladislav Zubok traces the origins of the Cold War in post-war Europe, through the tumultuous decades of confrontation, to the fall of the Berlin Wall and beyond.

With remarkable clarity and unique perspective, Zubok argues that the Cold War, often seen as an existential battle between capitalist democracy and totalitarian communism, has long been misunderstood. He challenges the popular Western narrative that economic superiority and democratic values led the USA to victory. Instead, he looks beyond the familiar images of East-West rivalry, shining a light on the impact of non-Western actors and placing the war in the context of global decolonisation, Soviet weakness and the accidents of history. Here, he interrogates what happens when stability and peace are no longer the default, when treaties are broken and when diplomacy ceases to function.

Drawing on years of research and informed by Zubok’s three decades in the USSR followed by three decades in the West, The Cold War paints a striking portrait of a world on the brink.

About the author

Vladislav Zubok

Vladislav Zubok is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of several books, including Collapse and A Failed Empire, and is the recipient of the Lionel Gelber Prize and the Marshall Shulman Prize, as well as a finalist for the Cundill Prize.
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