Cover: The Triumph of Broken Promises: The End of the Cold War and the Rise of Neoliberalism, from Harvard University PressCover: The Triumph of Broken Promises in HARDCOVER

The Triumph of Broken Promises

The End of the Cold War and the Rise of Neoliberalism

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$45.00 • £39.95 • €40.95

ISBN 9780674976788

Publication Date: 08/09/2022


440 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

13 illus., 1 table


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Why did the West win the Cold War? In this powerful new interpretation, Bartel argues that the struggle between democracy and communism was fundamentally a contest over which system of government could best harness industrial modernity to improve the lives of its people… The book’s originality lies in how it weaves together Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of reform, known as perestroika, and the conservative economic turn under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.—G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

What distinguishes the exceptionally well-researched…The Triumph of Broken Promises is [Bartel’s] parallel analysis of how the crisis was handled in the democratic West and the authoritarian East, and how it ultimately led to the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism. It is this unified framework, plus its implications for several eminently political events: the break up of the Soviet Union and other Communist federations, the unification of Germany, etc., that represents, in in my opinion, the book’s greatest strength.—Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality and More 3.0

The best structural account yet of the end of the Cold War, the rise of neoliberalism, and the emergence of the current world order. An elegant work of critical historical analysis, the book is essential reading for those invested in building a better, more equitable future.—Sean T. Byrnes, Jacobin

As the title of the book suggests, the post–Cold War world would be indelibly marked by a retraction of social democratic commitments. Liberal democracy and neoliberal economies prevailed, according to Bartel, because ‘they were the best political and economic systems for breaking promises.’—Andre Pagliarini, New Republic

Striking in its hardheaded realism… [A] tremendously sharp work.—Alex Hochuli, American Affairs

How did the Cold War, which began as a competition to make promises, mutate into a race to break them? And why did the West win? Bartel offers a bold and compelling interpretation that links the history of the Cold War and neoliberalism to dramatic effect. The Triumph of Broken Promises will be essential reading.—Adam Tooze, author of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

If the Cold War began with a competition to provide welfare, it ended as both sides imposed austerity and discipline on their populations. Bartel’s brilliantly conceived and researched study renovates our understanding of how and why the Soviet Union was driven toward collapse precisely as the United States, faced with slowdown after the oil shock, moved toward neoliberal governance. Few books explain the makings of our times as well as this thrilling debut.—Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History

A deeply significant history of how the way in which the Cold War ended gave rise to the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism. Bartel traces this trajectory through personal narratives from East and West and through deep archival research. His book is a must-read for anyone interested in how the Cold War and its immediate aftermath produced the world we live in today.—Odd Arne Westad, author of The Cold War: A World History

An excellent work, attractively written, with a powerful argument that carries a large narrative arc from the oil shocks and international monetary confusion of the 1970s to the end of the Cold War. Promises were broken because governments could not meet the expectations of their populations, generated during the postwar economic miracle, about continuously rising incomes. The result was disaffection, but governments’ hands were tied. Well supported by fascinating archival materials, including from the IMF, this is a compelling story.—Harold James, author of The Creation and Destruction of Value: The Globalization Cycle

The Triumph of Broken Promises is a stimulating book: conceptually sophisticated, full of archival finds, and profoundly illuminating of connections between the Cold War’s end and neoliberalism’s ascent.—Gary Gerstle, author of The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era

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