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The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War

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The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War

H.W. Brands' book was a pretty solid read. It provided a different outlook on the Cold War, as it sought to show that it was not merely an American victory over "communism" and the Russians. There was far more to the Cold War than most Americans would care to admit, but Brands puts it out there for the reader to take in.

Brands' purpose for writing this book was to inform the reader of actions taken before, during, and after the Cold War. After World War II, the United States and Russia were the only two remaining world powers. Each had a conflicting method of government, which ultimately led to the Cold War. The two superpowers were at the center of attention for the better part of two decades. The United States underwent a geopolitical battle with the USSR to gain ground in Europe and other Eastern countries. This geopolitical battle led the United States to ally itself with many unstable nations and leaders based solely on said nations/leaders views on communism. As these nations began to topple, the United States turned to secret black ops to ensure the country stayed on the side of democracy and "freedom". The USSR was well on its way to self-destruction far before the Cold War ended. The United States kept the fight against communism alive for almost a decade longer than necessary. Brands said that by antagonizing the USSR, the United States inevitably prolonged the dilemma in the East far beyond what it should have. The USSR was crumbling, and with the United States trying to fight every anti-democratic satellite nation it kept her alive. As long as people of a nation have something to rally behind, it will be hard to stop their cause. Iraq is a perfect example: We toppled their communist dictator to put a democratic regime into play, yet there is more death and hard-line opposition than ever before. Democracy does not fit everywhere regardless of what we here in the United States would like to believe.

Brands' central argument for the work was that the Cold War was not a commanding victory for the United States. All through school, I was taught that the United States beat back the mighty Soviet Union and that democracy and freedom prevailed; what a joke. Brands brought up Korea and Vietnam, and all the lives lost for a questionable cause. The French should have handled their business over in Vietnam. When they could not oust the North Vietnamese, they should have cut and run instead of begging for help; this would have saved countless lives. A war over in the remote jungles of Vietnam to "establish

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