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Books > History > Americas > United States > 0195166795
  1. On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague
    On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague
    On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague
    On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague
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  2. On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague

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    Customer Ratings (6 reviews)
    Price R759.00

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In 1945, both the U.S. State Department and U.S. Intelligence saw Czechoslovakia as the master key to the balance of power in Europe and as a chessboard for the power-game between East and West. Washington believed that the political scene in Prague was the best available indicator of whether the United States would be able to coexist with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.

In this book, Igor Lukes illuminates the end of World War II and the early stages of the Cold War in Prague, showing why the United States failed to prevent Czechoslovakia from being absorbed into the Soviet bloc. He draws on documents from archives in the United States and the Czech Republic, on the testimonies of high ranking officers who served in the U.S. Embassy from 1945 to 1948, and on unpublished manuscripts, diaries, and memoirs.

Exploiting this wealth of evidence, Lukes paints a critical portrait of Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt. He shows that Steinhardt's groundless optimism caused Washington to ignore clear signs that democracy in Czechoslovakia was in trouble. Although U.S. Intelligence officials who served in Prague were committed to the mission of gathering information and protecting democracy, they were defeated by the Czech and Soviet clandestine services that proved to be more shrewd, innovative, and eager to win. Indeed, Lukes reveals that a key American officer may have been turned by the Russians. For all these reasons, when the Communists moved to impose their dictatorship, the U.S. Embassy and its CIA section were unprepared and powerless.

The fall of Czechoslovakia in 1948 helped deepen Cold War tensions for decades to come. Vividly written and filled with colorful portraits of the key participants, On the Edge of the Cold War offers an authoritative account of this key foreign policy debacle.

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Igor Lukes
Brand: Oxford University Press, USA
Used Book in Good Condition
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

A ton of ink has been spilled on "Who lost China?" This book is on "Who lost Czechoslovakia?" and its author, Professor Lukes, places a good share of the blame on the ineptness of military, diplomatic, and espionage officials of the United States, mainly Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt.

While I do not think readers should forget that the main blame lies jointly with the USSR's evil Stalin and weak civilian leadership within Czechoslovakia itself, there is good reason presented here to be severely critical of the self-absorbed, inattentive to duty, and ethically conflicted U.S. ambassador.

While I generally do not think epilogues are necessary, I believe most readers would have appreciated short notes of what happened to the main players after the period covered by this book.

Another book that I highly recommend to readers on this general subject (although not focused on the U.S. embassy) is Ivan Margolius' "Reflections of Prague: Journeys through the... Read more
If you are interested in the period of Czech/Czechoslovak history the book covers, it is a well-written, meticulously researched history of life in and around the US Embassy in 1945-48. I believe it offers some lessons in what to expect after Mr. Putin carries out his current plans for the Eastern Ukraine. My only quibble is that Lukes ascribes too much power to the American diplomats in Prague to influence the course of Czechoslovakia's history. This seems to be a common misconception even today about the powers of diplomats, whether things are observed from the Western or the Russian side. The Czechoslovaks' fate was decided at Yalta, when George S. Patton's stopping point was conceded by Roosevelt and his aides. Can anyone imagine what the course of history might have been if Roosevelt had insisted on US troops continuing on to Prague and the border of then-independent Slovakia? Thus leaving an independent, Slavic Czech Republic on the Western side of the iron curtain?
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