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International Relations of the Cold War

Michael Cox
SAGE (January 2015)

Acclaimed international relations expert, Michael Cox, editor of the highly successful Twentieth Century International Relations, with this new multivolume reference collection examines and unpacks the Cold War as understood from a largely IR point of view. The volumes address some of the key conceptual questions thrown up by the evolution of the Cold War from beginning to end and beyond.

Volume 1 - The Origins of the Cold War

Volume 2 - The Cold War as a System

Volume 3 - The End of the Cold War

Volume 4 - The Cold War Legacy

Volume 1 deals less with the minutiae and more with the various 'big debates' that have organised the discussion about the origins of the Cold War. These include who started the cold war (the responsibility question), whether or not the Cold War was a product of a clash of state interests (the realist view), a "security dilemma" or a by-product of ideas. Significantly, while there is a huge literature on the origins of the Cold War, the level of conceptualization about it has been relatively thin.

Volume 2 looks at the system more generally. Some important issues addressed in this volumes include the meaning of bipolarity, the notion of deterrence, the idea of a great power peace and its various (contested) causes, whether or not there was more than one Cold War, and the impact of the Cold War on International Relations as a discipline itself.

Volume 3 deals in turn with the various theories as to why the Cold War came to an end, why the experts did not predict it, whether or not that really matters, and the longer impact of the end of the Cold War upon IR as a field.

Volume 4 concludes with an examination of the ways in which the end of the Cold War has continued to shape world politics since 1991. The final section takes the reader right up to the 'war on terror' and the discussion around the existence or nature of a 'post-Cold War order'.

  • Professor Michael Cox is co-director of LSE IDEAS and professor of international relations at LSE.

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International Relations of the Cold War