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Longleaf Combined University Press Titles Fall/Winter 2020

  • Other Formats

    9781501751707 9781501751714
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    For sale with exclusive rights in: WORLD
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Engaging the Evil Empire
Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War
By (author): Simon Miles
Simon Miles


Cornell University Press



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paper over boards
Hardcover , Paper over boards


General Trade : Age (years) 18
Oct 15, 2020
$47.95 CAD


9.1in x 6.1 x 0.9 in | 460 gr

Page Count:

248 pages
Cornell University Press
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century / General
General and world history|Diplomacy|History of the Americas

In a narrative-redefining approach, Engaging the Evil Empire dramatically alters how we look at the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Tracking key events in US-Soviet relations across the years between 1980 and 1985, Simon Miles shows that covert engagement gave way to overt conversation as both superpowers determined that open diplomacy was the best means of furthering their own, primarily competitive, goals. Miles narrates the history of these dramatic years, as President Ronald Reagan consistently applied a disciplined carrot-and-stick approach, reaching out to Moscow while at the same time excoriating the Soviet system and building up US military capabilities.

The received wisdom in diplomatic circles is that the beginning of the end of the Cold War came from changing policy preferences and that President Reagan in particular opted for a more conciliatory and less bellicose diplomatic approach. In reality, Miles clearly demonstrates, Reagan and ranking officials in the National Security Council had determined that the United States enjoyed a strategic margin of error that permitted it to engage Moscow overtly.

As US grand strategy developed, so did that of the Soviet Union. Engaging the Evil Empire covers five critical years of Cold War history when Soviet leaders tried to reduce tensions between the two nations in order to gain economic breathing room and, to ensure domestic political stability, prioritize expenditures on butter over those on guns. Miles's bold narrative shifts the focus of Cold War historians away from exclusive attention on Washington by focusing on the years of back-channel communiqués and internal strategy debates in Moscow as well as Prague and East Berlin.

Simon Miles is Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

Engaging the Evil Empire is well researched and brings out the complexities of US foreign-policymaking in an era that has customarily been considered under such simplistic labels as the 'Second Cold War'.

- Jussi Hanhimäki, author of The Flawed Architect

In 1980 it looked like the Soviet Union had the US on the run. Less than 6 years later, the tide had turned and the transformation later known as the end of the Cold War had begun. Yet those years are strangely neglected. Miles rectifies this deficiency in a deeply researched and well argued study of American and, especially, Soviet behavior that traces the developments of the early 1980s and allows us to see the succeeding and better-studied events in a new light.

- Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think

Based on archives from both sides of the Iron Curtain, Simon Miles's judiciously researched and admirably balanced book uncovers the deep roots of the Cold War's demise. Engaging the Evil Empire provides important insights for scholars, policymakers, and the public as they grapple with the emerging period of great power competition.

- James Cameron, author of The Double Game

At a time when tensions with Russia are rising precipitously, Simon Miles has provided a much-needed, well-documented account of how Washington and Moscow, ever partners and rivals, managed to master their differences in the past. These compelling insights from history deserve a wide audience today.

- M. E. Sarotte, author of The Collapse

[A] provocative new book on the Cold War relationship between the US and the Soviet Union during the first half of the 1980s.

- Choice

This fast-paced and well-documented analysis of the 1981-85 period provides much new evidence about an oft-neglected period in superpower relations. Simon Miles contradicts the widely held view that the Cold War flared up once more during Ronald Reagan's first term and the concurrent final years of gerontocratic rule in the Soviet Union, arguing instead that the two superpowers were genuinely interested in negotiations, though not necessarily cooperation. Engaging the Evil Empire benefits from a clear narrative, concise writing, and the use of a dazzling array of archival material.

- The Russian Review

Engaging the Evil Empire is a thought-provoking historical analysis of the people and events that accelerated the Cold War's peaceful conclusion. Miles's work is an efficient case study for any student of grand strategy

- H-Net

Miles's book represents a very valuable contribution to the Cold War research and no historian who is interested in the superpower competition in the second half of the 20th century should miss it.

- Securitas Imperii

Simon Miles's Engaging the Evil Empire initiates a more pointed and factual exploration of the topic. Miles makes clear that the groundwork for improvement was being quietly laid during the time when US-Soviet relations seemed most ominous.

- The Journal of American History

Miles makes clear that the groundwork for improvement was being quietly laid during the time when U.S.-Soviet relations seemed most ominous. [T]he great strengths of Miles's book is his use of an impressively rich international set of archival sources that complements and goes beyond much of what previous scholars have accessed.

- H-Diplo

Simon Miles has produced a stimulating work that adds to the growing list of scholarly works aimed at explaining why the Cold War ended the way it did.[T]his book is an important case study of the people, politics, and foreign policy that went into ending the confrontation between the two superpowers in the latter half of the twentieth century.

- H-War

Engaging the Evil Empire is a thought-provoking historical analysis of the people and events that accelerated the Cold War's peaceful conclusion. Miles's work is an efficient case study for any student of grand strategy. His use of archives from multiple European states adds credibility to the importance he places on back-channeling and quiet diplomacy as the profound aspects of Reagan's approach.

- H-War

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