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The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War

Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko|
Yale University Press (25 August 2008)

The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold WarAfter a devastating world war, culminating in the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was clear that the United States and the Soviet Union had to establish a cooperative order if the planet was to escape an atomic World War Three.

In this provocative study, Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko show how the atomic bomb pushed the United States and the Soviet Union not toward cooperation but toward deep bipolar confrontation. Joseph Stalin, sure that the Americans meant to deploy their new weapon against Russia and defeat socialism, would stop at nothing to build his own bomb. Harry Truman, initially willing to consider cooperation, discovered that its pursuit would mean political suicide, especially when news of Soviet atomic spies reached the public. Both superpowers, moreover, discerned a new reality of the atomic age: now, cooperation must be total. The dangers posed by the bomb meant that intermediate measures of international cooperation would protect no one. Yet no two nations in history were less prepared to pursue total cooperation than the United States and the Soviet Union. The logic of the bomb pointed them toward immediate Cold War.

Dr Sergey Radchenko is a tutorial follow in international history at LSE.
Campbell Craig is professor of international relations at the University of Southampton.

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"This is a sprightly and well-argued book that should be read by a wide audience."
Lloyd Gardner, Rutgers University

"The authors offer a number of interpretations that will shape the debate on this topic. Interesting insights and judgments."
Paul Boyer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"An outstanding new interpretation of the origins of the Cold War that gives equal weight to American and Soviet perspectives on the conflict that shaped the contemporary world. Its central thesis, that the atomic bomb made the Cold War inevitable, is sure to provoke considerable controversy."
Geoffrey Roberts, author of Stalin's Wars: from world war to cold war, 1939-1953

"In a signal contribution, Craig and Radchenko bring together the key aspects of the role of the atom bomb in starting the Cold War, including its development, use, and the proposals for its control. With original research and keen judgment, the authors bring out new factors, such as the impact of the discovery of Soviet espionage on the development of the Baruch Plan, and integrate multiple elements to give us a much fuller picture of this crucial topic."
Robert Jervis, Columbia University