Review: "Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World"

Updated on August 7, 2019
Larry Slawson profile image

Larry Slawson received his Masters Degree at UNC Charlotte. He specializes in Russian and Ukrainian History.

Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World.
Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World. | Source


Throughout this work, historian Hajimu Masuda tracks the development of the Cold War from 1945 to 1953, and argues that the Korean War represented a pivotal shift in relations between both the United States and the Soviet Union. Masuda’s work effectively demonstrates that the war in Korea served to accentuate the divide between both communist and anti-communist nations; helping to establish and promulgate the bi-polar arena that emerged on the world stage in the 1950s. In turn, Masuda argues that this bi-polar divide often forced outside nations and leaders (typically against their will) to choose which side they would support in the burgeoning conflict between both the Americans and Soviets.

Masuda's Main Points

Masuda’s newfound focus on the Korean War is important to consider for historians and scholars since this book serves as a great counter to traditional historiographical interpretations that stress the importance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the “Berlin Airlift,” or the Soviet acquisition of an atomic bomb as catalysts for the Cold War. Instead, Masuda’s account dismisses these interpretations outright, and demonstrates that the true origins of the conflict began with the war in Korea, as anti-communist rhetoric and public opinion helped form and spread a divided atmosphere of global politics that did not exist in years prior.

Concluding Thoughts

Masuda’s work relies on numerous primary source materials that include: archival records (from the United States, Europe, and Asia), oral-history transcripts, interviews with Korean War veterans and civilians, letters, memoirs, government records (such as reports from the U.S. State Department), as well as newspaper accounts (such as the New York Times). Masuda’s work is also well-written and offers an approach to the Cold War that encompasses perspectives from a large array of countries and individuals from all backgrounds. In regard to shortcomings, however, the lack of a comprehensive historiographical analysis makes it difficult for newcomers to peruse the scholarship that the author is challenging. Moreover, her lack of a proper bibliographical section makes it difficult to search out particular sources that she refers to in the text. Even with these shortcomings though, Masuda’s work is important to consider as it offers an approach that completely reassesses the timeline surrounding the origins of the Cold War.

All in all, I give this work 5/5 Stars and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in an early analysis of the Cold War. Masuda offers a top-notch account that should not be missed. Definitely check it out if you get the opportunity, as you will not be disappointed.

Questions to Facilitate Group Discussion

1.) What was Masuda's thesis? What are some of the main arguments that the author makes in this work? Is her argument persuasive? Why or why not?

2.) What type of primary source material does Masuda rely on in this book? Does this help or hinder her overall argument?

3.) Does Masuda organize his work in a logical and convincing manner? Why or why not?

4.) What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of this book? How could the author have improved the contents of this work?

5.) Who was the intended audience for this piece? Can scholars and the general public, alike, enjoy the contents of this book?

6.) What did you like most about this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

7.) What sort of scholarship is the author building on (or challenging) with this work?

8.) Did you learn anything after reading this book? Were you surprised by any of the facts and figures presented by the author?

Do you agree with Masuda that the Korean War represents the beginning of the Cold War?

See results

Suggestions For Further Reading

Gibson, David. Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision During the Cuban Missile Crisis. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Gordin, Michael. Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

Harrington, Daniel. Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012.

Works Cited:

Masuda, Hajimu. Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Larry Slawson


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)