Brothers in Arms

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This volume brings together young scholars from China, Russia, the United States, and Western Europe who, drawing on much newly available documentation, analyze the complicated history of the Sino-Soviet relationship from World War II to the 1960s.

The book both exemplifies and advances a trend in post-Cold War international history that emphasizes scholarly cooperation across borders as necessary for making full use of evidence available in different languages from different cultures and varying political systems. The book also stresses the challenges the dramatic widening of the database—newly available Soviet, Chinese, and Eastern Bloc archives, document collections, and briefing books, as well as interviews with former policymakers and participants in the bilateral relationship—poses for scholars of post-1954 history in terms of approaches and interpretations.

This volume is offered as a first assessment of massive amounts of new information, providing new insights and many reevaluations of various aspects of the alliance between China and the Soviet Union—its creation, aims, and instruments, its strains and conflicts, and its final collapse. Revising earlier views, the contributors emphasize the role of ideology and cultural aspects of interaction, the links between alliance policies and domestic politics, and the way the partners’ differing perceptions of the United States influenced the fate of the alliance.

The eight chapters of the book are ordered in a rough chronological sequence. The topics covered are: the origins of the alliance during World War II and the ensuing civil war in China, the importance of the Korean War in the creation of the alliance, the information gleaned from Soviet advisors who served in China during the 1950’s, the results of Soviet military assistance programs for China, the varying Russian and Chinese relationships with the United States, the development of Sino-Soviet economic cooperation and trade, the role of Nikita Krushchev in the Sino-Soviet split of the late 1950’s, and the links between Mao Zedong’s ideological development and the collapse of the alliance. A documentary appendix provides translations of crucial documents and transcripts of meetings of Russians and Chinese.

Odd Arne Westad is Reader in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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