Cold War, Warm Friends

The legacies of every war include controversy regarding its origins, its prosecution, its conclusion, and its material and political results.  In the case of World War II, John Lukacs argues that among its major legacies was the Cold War, whose cause was the rigid division of Europe agreed upon by Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin while hostilities yet continued.  As for the Cold War itself, its legacy was the debate, heated to the point almost of rhetorical violence, over the origins of that phenomenon and the extent to which the two sides—East and West, communist and free world, the Soviet Union and the United States—bear moral responsibility for it.

One of these books deals with the first of these issues, the other with the second—and so much else as well.

World War II, John Lukacs believes, was the work of one man, and one man alone: Adolf Hitler.  But that man was enormously complex, at once sui generis (as indeed every human being is) and the product of Europe’s almost infinitely complicated history.  Among that history’s salient elements, the immediate cause of Hitler, and thus of World War II, was, Lukacs claims, democracy—the source of both nationalism and socialism in Europe and on the North American continent.  Following the Revolutionary Age in Europe that ended with the revolutions of 1848-49, a series of wars occurred;...

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