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Another transatlantic split: American and European narratives and the end of the Cold War

Cox, Michael (2007) Another transatlantic split: American and European narratives and the end of the Cold War. Cold War History, 7 (1). pp. 121-146. ISSN 1468-2745

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14682740701218882


It has often been remarked that the victors do not merely harvest the fruits of war, but are then situated by virtue of their position to write the 'real' history of how that war began, who fought it most ethically, and the key part they then played in bringing it to a victorious and just end. This article argues that this pattern of writing the past, and thereby defining it, has been much in evidence in the wider American historiography on the end of the Cold War in Europe. This is not to reduce a complex literature to a single narrative. It is to suggest however that many Americans - politicians, policy-makers and academics alike - have too readily adopted the politically convenient view that it was America (and in some cases America alone) that through dint of effort and skill of diplomacy effectively changed the world by actively 'winning' the Cold War on the continent. As I argue, this not only makes for a one-sided triumphalist history; it has also had the effect of writing others - especially Europeans - out of the events that finally led to the overcoming of Europe's 45-year-old division. I then go on to point to the many important, and sometimes forgotten, ways in which Europe and Europeans helped make their own history. By so doing, I not only seek to redress the intellectual balance, but challenge American writers to reflect more critically on their own ways of viewing what, by any measure, still remains the most important event of the last part of the twentieth century.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 Routledge
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2009 16:16
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:37

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