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The Specter of Communism

The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953

Hill and Wang Critical Issues

Melvyn P. Leffler

Hill and Wang

The Hill and Wang Critical Issues Series: concise, affordable works on pivotal topics in American history, society, and politics.

The Specter of Communism is a concise history of the origins of the Cold War and the evolution of U.S.-Soviet relations, from the Bolshevik revolution to the death of Stalin. Using not only American documents but also those from newly opened archives in Russia, China, and Eastern Europe, Leffler shows how the ideological animosity that existed from Lenin's seizure of power onward turned into dangerous confrontation. By focusing on American political culture and American anxieties about the Soviet political and economic threat, Leffler suggests new ways of understanding the global struggle staged by the two great powers of the postwar era.

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The Specter of Communism
( 1 )THE BACKGROUND 1917-1941FROM the beginning, there was an ideological clash. When the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in November 1917, in the midst of World War I, they appealed to workers everywhere to overthrow their governments. "We summon you to this struggle, workers of all countries! There is no other way. The crimes of the ruling, exploiting classes in this war have been countless. These crimes cry out for revolutionary revenge." 1The Bolsheviks believed that their revolution in Russia would be crushed if they did not sue for peace, spark revolution abroad,
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Specter of Communism

"This is . . . not just a new book but a book with newness in it, as all Heaney's collections have been. It marks a sustained effort, not exactly to unite the two parts of himself and his cultural inheritance but rather to make the line between them more permeable than before."--Nicholas Jenkins, The Times Literary Supplement

"So many of [Heaney's] poems have become personal lodestones for us that reading this new book is like awakening to an experience both fresh and familiar. From his earliest poems, he has presented the ordinary sensations of the physical world radiantly, causing us to hear the 'clean new music' of a voice calling down into a well, showed us the 'sloped honeycomb' of a thatched roof or the tactile wholesomeness of 'new potatoes that we picked / Loving their coolhardness in our hands' . . . Thoroughly grounded as he is in what Richard Wilbur, using a phrase from religious texts, simply and memorably called 'the things of this world,' this son of an Irish farming family offers a vision that is a powerful tonic against the fin de siecle alienation and solipsism touted by fashionable literary criticism."--Richard Tillinghast, The New York Times Book Review

"Heaney's craftsmanship is at its most variable. There are poems that approach the sardonic leanness of those eastern European writers his essays so often celebrate. The fifth section of 'The Thimble,' for example, simply reads: 'And so on.' Elsewhere, the language may be layered extra thickly, with adjectives and nouns melding into foursomes."--Carol Rumens, New Statesman & Society

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Melvyn P. Leffler

  • Melvyn P. Leffler, Stettinius Professor of History at the University of Virginia, is the author of A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War, which won the Bancroft Prize, the Farrell Prize, and the Hoover Book Award in 1993.  
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The Specter of Communism

The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953

Hill and Wang Critical Issues

Melvyn P. Leffler

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Hill and Wang

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