There are very few people who can write about Soviet leaders’ thinking and the role that intelligence played in shaping their views with the authority that Raymond Garthoff can and does in his new book. For students of the Cold War, Garthoff’s work is widely recognized. Among others, he has written two important books on the Cold War: D'etente and Confrontation: American–Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan and The Great Transition: American–Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War. In his new book, Garthoff seeks to answer a more precise question, on which current scholarship is scant at best: how did Soviet leaders use intelligence to assess the American threat during the Cold War? The question cannot be more timely: as much as leaders in the United States are trying to gauge the intentions of their nondemocratic adversaries, they are equally interested in understanding how the adversary reaches conclusions about the United States’ intentions and capabilities.
The unique combination of Garthoff’s background as a Central Intelligence Agency analyst on Soviet affairs during the Cold War and (later) as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria allows him to take us beyond the available official and declassified record of how Soviet leaders and intelligence officers perceived and at times misperceived—U.S. in
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North Korea and the West
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