This is a book about the human experience since 1945, focusing on two central points of tension or debate. The first involves the struggle between two political and economic systems: centralized socialism with its authoritarian political order on the one side, and free-market capitalism with its open, democratic political life on the other side. This first tension or debate remained at the forefront of world history from 1945 until the late 1980s, making its mark on cultural and intellectual life, shaping international relations, and abetting an enormous, and enormously expensive, military arms race. The Soviet Union and the US were the principal nation-states engaged in this debate, although both “superpowers” were joined, sometimes reluctantly, by a host of allies and surrogates around the globe. The Soviet system, with its centralized economic planning and high levels of social control, began to unravel with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and finally collapsed in 1991, ending more than three decades of Cold War with the US. The sudden demise of the Soviet Union suggested to some sanguine observers that the “end of history” had arrived and that a “new world order” of peace and expanding democracy was in formation.
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- Introduction: Dynamic Tensions in Recent Global History
W. M. Spellman
- Macmillan Education UK
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