Trim: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-6880-6 • Hardback • April 2012 • $120.00 • (£92.00)
978-0-7391-9743-1 • Paperback • June 2014 • $52.99 • (£41.00)
978-0-7391-6881-3 • eBook • April 2012 • $50.00 • (£38.00)
Richard D. Williamson is an independent scholar with a PhD in history from Louisiana State University.
Introduction: First Steps to Détente
Prologue: The US, USSR, and Berlin, 1953–1958
Chapter 1: "A Free City, Khrushchev's November Proposals, Allied Response, and a Foreign Minister's Conference," November 1958–May 1959
Chapter 2: "Seeking a Summit," Khrushchev's US Visit, Western Heads of State Meeting, the U-2 incident, and the Paris Summit June 1959–December 1960
Chapter 3: “Vienna & the Wall," Kennedy's First Months,, Vienna Summit, the Acheson Plan, and the Berlin Wall, January–August 1961
Chapter 4: “Salami Tactics,” Allied Collapse, Kennedy's Private Approach, and Showdown at Checkpoint Charlie, September - December 1961
Chapter 5: "Vital Interests," Thompson-Gromyko in Moscow, Rusk-Gromyko in Geneva, and Rusk-Dobrynin in Washington, Geneva ENDC Sessions, and Soviet Missiles in Cuba, January–August 1962
Chapter 6: "A Slippery Slope," New Harassment in Berlin, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Allied Estrangement, and the Limited Test Ban Treaty, September 1962–November 1963
Summary: American Diplomacy in the Berlin Crisis
The 'second Berlin crisis' (1958-1963) aggravated East-West relations during a time of great superpower tensions in the Third World. Richard Williamson documents in excruciating detail how the doves in Washington prevailed over the hawks. The late Eisenhower and the Kennedy administrations engaged the Soviets and their principal European allies with protracted and skillful diplomacy instead of giving the nod to the hardliners who were ready to unleash a military crisis over Berlin that could have easily escalated into nuclear war. Similar to the Cuban missile crisis, American diplomacy maintained the peace and prepared the path for détente. No scholarly work has retraced American diplomatic moves during the Berlin crisis as patiently as First Steps toward Détente. This is diplomatic history at its best.
— Günter Bischof, University of New Orleans
As the Cold War recedes from memory, Americans have lost sight of how important the fate of the divided city of Berlin and the future of Germany were to that conflict. Richard Williamson’s First Steps Toward Détente reminds us, focusing on Berlin as the key issue for American diplomacy during the crisis years of 1958–1963. In his fast-paced and well-written account, Williamson makes clear the critical contribution of American leaders toward resolving the Berlin crisis and taking the first steps with the Soviet Union away from the nuclear precipice. This book is both a very important contribution to our understanding of the history of the Cold War, as well as a case example of the value of diplomacy in avoiding international conflict.
— Thomas A. Schwartz, Vanderbilt University
Williamson provides a detailed rendering of the tortuous path of American diplomacy throughout the entirety of Nikita Khrushchev's Berlin crisis. He locates the roots of détente and later superpower summitry in American leaders' concerns about chronic allied disunity over the status of Berlin under the shadow of global war.
— Richard V. Damms, Mississippi State University