On the Edge of the Cold War: American Diplomats and Spies in Postwar Prague

Paperback | January 15, 2015

byIgor Lukes

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In 1945, both the U.S. State Department and U.S. Intelligence saw Czechoslovakia as the master key to the balance of power in Europe and as a chessboard for the power-game between East and West. Washington believed that the political scene in Prague was the best available indicator of whetherthe United States would be able to coexist with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. In this book, Igor Lukes illuminates the end of World War II and the early stages of the Cold War in Prague, showing why the United States failed to prevent Czechoslovakia from being absorbed into the Soviet bloc. He draws on documents from archives in the United States and the Czech Republic, onthe testimonies of high ranking officers who served in the U.S. Embassy from 1945 to 1948, and on unpublished manuscripts, diaries, and memoirs. Exploiting this wealth of evidence, Lukes paints a critical portrait of Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt. He shows that Steinhardt's groundless optimism caused Washington to ignore clear signs that democracy in Czechoslovakia was in trouble. Although U.S. Intelligence officials who served in Praguewere committed to the mission of gathering information and protecting democracy, they were defeated by the Czech and Soviet clandestine services that proved to be more shrewd, innovative, and eager to win. Indeed, Lukes reveals that a key American officer may have been turned by the Russians. Forall these reasons, when the Communists moved to impose their dictatorship, the U.S. Embassy and its CIA section were unprepared and powerless.The fall of Czechoslovakia in 1948 helped deepen Cold War tensions for decades to come. Vividly written and filled with colorful portraits of the key participants, On the Edge of the Cold War offers an authoritative account of this key foreign policy debacle.

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In 1945, both the U.S. State Department and U.S. Intelligence saw Czechoslovakia as the master key to the balance of power in Europe and as a chessboard for the power-game between East and West. Washington believed that the political scene in Prague was the best available indicator of whetherthe United States would be able to coexist w...

Igor Lukes is University Professor of History and International Relations at Boston University. He is the author of Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Benes in the Thirties and Rudolf Slansky: His Trials and Trial.

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Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Bene%s in the 1930s
Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.79 inPublished:January 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190217847

ISBN - 13:9780190217846

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction. Postwar Czechoslovakia: The Master Key to Europe?1. Resurrecting Czechoslovakia from its Munich Grave2. General Eisenhower Declines to Liberate Prague3. Spring 1945: The Americans Return to the Schnborn Palace4. Ambassador Steinhardt's Delayed Arrival5. A Chronicle of Wasted Opportunities6. Steinhardt Encounters Reality: Nationalization, Expulsions, and U.S. Military Withdrawal7. America's First Warning Signs: From the Stechovice Raid Toward the May 1946 Elections8. Great Expectations and Lost Illusions: U.S. Intelligence in Postwar Prague9. Passing the Point of No-Return: Prague Withdraws from the Marshall Plan10. The Communists Exchange Popularity for Absolute Power11. The Schonborn Palace Under Siege: Americans as "Spies and Saboteurs"NotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"With inventive research and skillful storytelling, Igor Lukes reconstructs the crucial Cold War history of Czechoslovakia between the collapse of the Third Reich and the momentous February 1948 Czech coup. A striking cast of characters--adventurous spies, naive diplomats, secret policerogues, and seductive women--inhabits this intriguing, if ultimately tragic, tale of the fecklessness of the U.S. government when facing the destruction of Czechoslovak democracy." --Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University