Review: "The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War"

Updated on May 30, 2017
Larry Slawson profile image

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

"The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War"
"The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War" | Source

Synopsis

Throughout Campbell Craig and Sergey Radchenko’s book, The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War, the authors explore the origins of the Cold War through an analysis of diplomatic relations between both the United States and Soviet Union during the final years of World War Two. In doing so, both Craig and Radchenko argue that American and Soviet relations declined significantly following the use (and detonation) of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; thus, bringing an end to the years of wartime cooperation and support as tension quickly gave way to an era of competition between the two powers.

Craig and Radchenko's Main Points

In their attempt to establish a sense of political and military hegemony in the postwar era, Craig and Radchenko argue that American leaders mistakenly believed that the atomic bombs could be used as a diplomatic weapon against the Soviets; a weapon that would not only strengthen American influence and power over the world, but also weaken and discourage the prospect of Soviet expansion. As the authors demonstrate, however, this gamble on behalf of the Americans proved false as the bombs only increased tension with the Soviets and led to a dramatic period of espionage (and technological theft) as the Soviet Union attempted to gain parity through the procurement of nuclear secrets from the United States. Had the United States avoided the use of atomic bombs against Japan and agreed to share its nuclear secrets with Stalin, the authors conclude that the Cold War could have potentially been avoided altogether; thus, allowing for a sense of mutual cooperation to extend itself into the postwar years. Instead, the authors argue that political provocations by the United States (through the bombing of Japan) led only to fierce competition and conflict with the Soviets, and forever altered global politics in the decades that followed.

Personal Thoughts

Craig and Radchenko rely on a large array of primary source materials that include: top secret (formerly) Russian and American government records, diplomatic reports, letters, memoirs, diaries, and correspondence records between Soviet and American officials. In conjunction with the wide array of secondary sources that the authors incorporate, Craig and Radchenko’s account is both well-researched and supported by the evidence they present. While this account offers a stunning and unique perspective on the origins of the Cold War, one clear weakness of this work lies in the fact that it systematically ignores other factors (such as the brewing conflict over the division of Germany and Berlin, as well as the political machinations of Stalin) as causal agents of the Cold War. Consequently, Craig and Radchenko’s analysis of the early Cold War often feels as though it is following a narrow construction of historical events. Nevertheless, this work is important to consider as it provides an illustration of the early forms of conflict that emerged between the Soviets and Americans, and provides a compelling sense of causation behind why the Cold War began.

Overall, I give this book 5/5 Stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in a diplomatic history of the early Cold War. Both Craig and Radchenko’s work offers a unique perspective of the early conflict between the United States and Soviet Union that is well-written, easy-to-read, and compelling with its research. Definitely check it out if you get a chance!

Questions to Facilitate Group Discussion

1.) What was Craig and Radchenko's thesis? What are some of the main arguments that the authors make in this work? Is their argument persuasive? Why or why not?

2.) What type of primary source material does Craig and Radchenko rely on in this book? Does this help or hinder their overall argument?

3.) Does Craig and Radchenko organize their work in a logical and convincing manner?

4.) What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of this book? How could the authors improve 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 are the authors 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 authors?

Do you believe that the atomic bombs represented the first stage of the Cold War?

See results

Works Cited:

Craig, Campbell and Sergey Radchenko. The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        GalaxyRat 

        16 months ago

        I like the review, Larry. I might read the book.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com 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: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      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 googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      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)
      Marketing
      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.
      Statistics
      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)