Bolts from the Blue: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the End of the Cold War

Wilson, James Graham, Department of History, University of Virginia
Leffler, Melvyn, Department of History, University of Virginia
Hitchcock, William, Department of History, University of Virginia

The goal of this dissertation is to explain why the Cold War ended not with a bang but a whimper. The basic argument I hope to sustain over the following seven chapters is that key individuals in power were responsible. Leaders made singular decisions during the final decade of the conflict about how to adapt to a rapidly changing international environment and engage with adversaries. The salient features of that environment in the middle of the 1980s were the recovery of international capitalism and the paralysis of command economies. Structural change was important; human agency was even more important. A combination of structural change and human agency eliminated the prospect of a global thermonuclear war and ended almost a half century of Cold War.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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