A landmark global history that makes us rethink how the Cold War ended and our present era was born
This book offers a bold new interpretation of the revolutions of 1989, showing how a new world order was forged—without major conflict. Based on extensive archival research, Kristina Spohr attributes this in large measure to determined diplomacy by a handful of international leaders, who engaged in tough but cooperative negotiation to reinvent the institutions of the Cold War. She offers a major reappraisal of George H. W. Bush and innovative assessments of Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl, as well as Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand. But, she argues, Europe’s transformation must be understood in global context. By contrasting events in Berlin and Moscow with the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Beijing, the book reveals how Deng Xiaoping pushed through China’s very different Communist reinvention. Here is an authoritative yet highly readable exploration of the crucial hinge years of 1989–1992 and their consequences for today’s world.
In this painstakingly researched history, Johns Hopkins University global affairs professor Spohr (The Global Chancellor) dissects international relations during the "hinge years" of 1989 1992 to understand "why a durable and apparently stable world order collapsed" and how "a new order was improvised out of its ruins." Spohr draws on recently declassified and "neglected documents" to investigate the dismantling of the U.S.S.R., Germany's swift reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the evolution of NATO, the establishment of the European Union, and the formation of the international coalition behind Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. Though she seeks to explicitly connect these and other matters to China's Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989 and the "false dawn" of Japan's geopolitical influence, the book's primary focus is on U.S., Soviet, and European relations. Spohr favors localized deep dives into the generational divide within Hungary's Communist Party leadership, for example over broad overviews, giving the book an impressive level of detail but a somewhat repetitive feel. She precisely captures individual personalities (George H.W. Bush "seemed a politician in flux"; German chancellor Helmut Kohl was willing to make fun of himself), and illustrates how the seeds of modern-day issues such as Brexit were sewn 30 years ago. Even the most dedicated students of world affairs will learn something new from this indefatigable survey.