To Russia with… Respect

February 20, 2014

With worldwide sports audiences focused on television and Internet stories from the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, we are all learning more about this fascinating country.  America has had a long and complex history of relations with Russia, from both the Soviet Union era and now as the Russian Federation. From allies to adversaries—and sometimes both at the same time— the U.S. and Russia have covered the gamut of different roles over the centuries.

In a month replete with themes of love for Valentine’s Day and stories about Russian history, the U.S. Government Bookstore adds to the dialogue with dozens of publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that show, if not always love, then the perpetual mutual respect between our two nations.

Russia-Soviet-Books-available from the GPO-US Government Bookstore

World War II

Book Cover Image for Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback)Russia’s role as both an adversary and an ally during the Second World War lays the foundation for its complicated but critical relationship with the rest of the world today. But its historic triumph over its former ally, Nazi Germany, is a feat still studied and admired today. In Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East (Paperback), the planning and execution of the German offensive against Russia in 1941-1942 are reviewed.

Book Cover Image for Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (Paper)Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East (in Paperback and ePub eBook) describes the German defeat by the Russians in World War II and the events that resulted in the Soviet Union becoming a dominant military power in Europe.

The Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and the Cold War

In response to West Germany’s inclusion in NATO and reflecting Soviet leadership’s desire to maintain control over military forces in Central and Eastern Europe, the Warsaw Pact was signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, as a mutual defense treaty between eight Cold War communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw Pact members included the U.S.S.R. plus Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Republic, German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (CIA Declassified Book and DVD) ISBN: 9780160920615Soviet military planning for conflict in Europe after World War II from the outset harnessed East European military capabilities to Soviet military purposes. This “operational subordination” of the member states’ military is thoroughly analyzed in The Warsaw Pact Wartime Statutes: Instruments of Soviet Control (Book and DVD) whose book and accompanying DVD include a wealth of newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency documents covering the Warsaw Pact period.

ISBN 9780160920608 The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (CIA Declassified Book and DVD)Another book and DVD set from the same series, The Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance: Soviet-East European Military Relations in Historical Perspective; Sources and Reassessments (Book and DVD), is a collection of hundreds of recently declassified documents designed to take stock of where we are twenty years after the collapse of East European Communism. It includes sensitive Soviet and Warsaw Pact military journals from 1961 to 1984, recently uncovered in newly opened archives across former Warsaw Pact nations, providing a view into Warsaw Pact military strategy.

At the conclusion of World War 2, the Soviet Union was a major player in the world and again an adversary. The period roughly from 1947 to 1991 was known as the Cold War, in which the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in Warsaw Pact) were lined up against the Western Bloc (the U.S. and NATO allies). Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA's Analysis of the Soviet Union- ISBN 9780160679544It was referred to as a “cold” war because there were no major world wars or direct conflicts between the two sides, although there were significant regional wars in Korea and Vietnam. Watching the Bear: Essays on CIA’s Analysis of the Soviet Union focuses on the organizational evolution of the CIA’s analysis of the Soviet economic, political, military, and scientific and technological developments during the Cold War. Interestingly, it also assesses the extent to which Western analyses of the Soviet Union may have influenced the USSR’s policy making process.

In addition to watching the West, Soviet leadership had a constant struggle to keep its own member states in line, particularly as some began to chafe under the communist system.

For example, many remember the Czechoslovak crisis from January 1968, when Alexander Dubcek was elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Under Dubcek, the Czech communist leadership had embarked on a radical program of dramatic liberalization of the Czechoslovak political, economic, and social order that was not approved by Moscow. Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; TheIn Strategic Warning & the Role of Intelligence: The CIA and Strategic Warning; The 1968 Soviet-Led Invasion of Czechoslovakia (Book and DVD), the Central Intelligence Agency’s Information Management Services reviewed, redacted, and released hundreds of documents related to the 1968 Czechoslovak-Soviet crisis, creating this fascinating book. The accompanying DVD has over 500 documents and 2,000 pages of recently declassified material about the crisis.

Détente Era

During the period of 1967 to 1979, there was an easing of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Referred to as détente, the era was a time of increased trade and cooperation with the Soviet Union and the signing of the SALT treaties, but relations cooled again with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan until the fall of the Soviet Union and the founding of the Russian Federation.

Book Cover Image for Soviet-American Relations: The Detente Years, 1969-1972The best overview of this important period can be found in Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972. With a foreword by Henry A. Kissinger, this unprecedented joint documentary publication presents the formerly top-secret record of how the United States and Soviet Union moved from Cold War to détente during 1969 to 1972. Published side-by side are both the U.S. and Soviet accounts of meetings between Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin, the so-called Kissinger-Dobrynin confidential back channel, related documents, and the full Soviet and U.S. record of the first Moscow Summit between President Richard Nixon and Soviet Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet documents are being released in the volume for the first time anywhere.

The Foreign Relations of the United States series fondly known as FRUS has a number of terrific titles about the U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. Foreign Relations of the United States series at http://bookstore.gpo.govOne volume in particular, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, documents U.S. national security policy in the context of the Vietnam War and the changing Cold War strategic balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. Another volume in the series, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, V. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972-August 1974, includes numerous direct personal communications between President Nixon and Soviet Leader Brezhnev covering a host of issues, including clarifying the practical application of the SALT I and AMB agreements, arms control, the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, commercial relations and most-favored-nation status, the emigration of Soviet Jews, and the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act which denied most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted free emigration, such as the Soviet Union.

ISBN 9780160895593 Rockets and People: NASA History Series Volume IV: The Moon Race (from a Soviet rocket designer's perspective) One of the crowning achievements of Russia and the Soviet Union has been its space program. From the launching of Sputnik that triggered the space race to participation in the International Space Station, Russians are justifiably proud of their “stellar” accomplishments. This pride is borne out in the fascinating book Rockets and People: Volume IV: The Moon Race. In this book translated from its original Russian version to English, the famous Russian spacecraft designer Boris Chertok— who worked under the legendary Sergey Korolev— continues his fascinating memoirs about the history of the Soviet space program, this time covering 1968 to 1974, the peak years of the Soviet human lunar program.

The Russian Federation

Today, Russia or the Russian Federation continues to be a major power, politically, militarily and economically.  But since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has continued to have issues with insurgencies and disagreements among its population. Book Cover Image for Breaking the Mold: Tanks in the CitiesBreaking the Mold: Tanks in the Cities (in Paperback and as an eBook) provides an up-to-date analysis of the utility of tanks and heavy armored forces in urban combat from across the world, and includes an analysis of the Russian use of tanks in quelling the insurgency in the Chechen Republic (Chechnya) in 1995.

No longer a communist nation, Russia today still has a number of social welfare programs that differ from the rest of Europe. The Social Security Programs Throughout the World series highlights the principal features of social security programs in more than 170 countries. Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012Now included in the most recent European edition, Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe 2012, Russian social security programs are analyzed and compared to other nations in Europe.

9781584874492_Russian-Military-Today-and-TomorrowAnd finally, The Russian Military Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Memory of Mary FitzGerald includes essays by top U.S. and Russian analysts to assess current Russian military thinking on warfare, giving insight into the Russia of today.

They say one must study history to understand where we are today and where we are heading. This listing is just a smattering of the many thoughtful publications about Russia and the Soviet Union that can add to your understanding of where this major power has been, where it is today and perhaps, where it might go in the future.

How can I get these publications about Russia and the Soviet Union?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy any of these eBooks or print publications—with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most of these titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Four Decades since Détente and SALT

May 18, 2012

Forty years ago next week marked a historic point in Soviet-American relations. On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon landed in Moscow for an unprecedented week-long summit with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Premier Alexei Kosygin and other Soviet officials that culminated in the SALT I Treaty and marked the height of the détente era.

In honor of this four decade anniversary, I thought I’d write about an insightful publication by the State Department entitled “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972 that covers this important period that marked a détente or a “thawing” of Cold War relations between the two superpowers.

Extremely interesting are the forewords by both Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. In them, they talk about their personal relationship that forged “The Channel” of communications between the two governments that finally led to the breakthrough in negotiations.

Kissinger reminisces:

On March 25, 1971, according to the transcript of a telephone conversation with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, I remarked: “When we are both out of government service, which will be a lot later for you than for me, I hope you will let me read the reports you send in on me.” … My remark to Dobrynin was an interlude in what evolved into almost daily exchanges. What was later named “The Channel” began as a general exchange of views. Starting in 1971, the Channel became the principal venue for U.S.-Soviet relations.

Don’t change “The Channel”  

According to Kissinger in “The Détente Years”, “The Channel” became one of the pathways of change, and “produced a number of significant agreements”, including:

  • an agreed approach on Strategic Arms Limitation (May 1971);
  • the conclusion of an agreement regarding access to Berlin (September 1971);
  • the announcement of a Soviet-American summit agreement (October 1971); and
  • President Nixon’s visit to Moscow (May 1972), at which agreements, the most important of which were a treaty regulating Ballistic Missile Defense and a five-year freeze on deploying additional offensive strategic weapons, were concluded. The two sides also published an agreed statement on principles of international conduct.

Image: Nixon and Brezhnev shake after signing the SALT treaty on May 26, 1972 (Source: Corbis Images).

Pass the SALT, please

The highlight of the publication is the discussion about the lead-up and issues during the Moscow Summit and the final negotiations of the SALT I Treaty.

SALT I, the first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, had begun in November 1969 to explore ways to halt or reduce the arms race, particularly nuclear weapon proliferation. This week of meetings from May 22 to 26, was set up after those years of negotiations to finalize and sign a number of agreements that increased cooperation and reduced the mutual nuclear threat between the two nations.

Image: Nuclear Limits. (Source: Time Magazine, 1972)

On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), the most significant of the multiple agreements reached during the Moscow summit. The terms of the SALT treaty limited the USSR and the United States to only 200 anti-ballistic missiles each, which had to be split between two defensive systems.

One good (hand)shake leads to another

Among all the handshakes at this Moscow summit was another for the “Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Cooperation in the Fields of Science and Technology” which laid the groundwork for the first joint Soviet-US space flight. Called the Apollo Soyuz Test Project or ASTP, the ASTP flight lasted only nine days from July 15-24, 1975, but led to another famous handshake… this time in space.

Image: Photo of the famous handshake between Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (f.g.) and cosmonaut Aleksei A. Leonov after a successful linkup in space of the Americans’ Apollo and the Soviets’ Soyuz spacecrafts on July 17, 1975  (Source: NASA ASTP gallery).

Innovation = Bureaucratic dismay

All in all, this publication provides unique insights from the players involved about the diplomatic communications and procedural changes and innovations that were put in place on both sides to eliminate the logjam in relations between Soviets and American administrations since the end of World War II. And sometimes these changes were done “outside” the normal processes.

As Kissinger explains in the book:

Paradoxically, the Channel worked best so long as the bureaucracy did not know of its existence. While that was the case, the participants in the interdepartmental machinery had an incentive to adjust their positions toward what they thought was feasible; in general, no one wanted to assume responsibility for failure by inflexibility…

For all the bureaucratic dismay it caused, the Channel was an innovative attempt to transcend the formalities of an increasingly bureaucratized diplomacy. It helped contain crises, saw America through a period of domestic divisions and sketched prospects for a more peaceful world.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Losing our Shared National Experience?

October 31, 2011

Our blog post last week talked about GPO’s 150-year history of keeping America informed. But what does this mean in today’s media-saturated world?

Has the proliferation of media eroded our shared national experience?

[Figure 1. U.S. History Collage. Image courtesy of Mrs. Rice’s American History II class, Lexington High School, Lexington, Ohio.

Two weeks ago in a social media seminar for Federal Government, David Kirkpatrick (technology writer for the Daily Beast and Fortune magazine and author of a new insider book on Facebook) gave some startling statistics: 50% of Facebook’s 800 million users worldwide visit Facebook daily and up to 500 million have accessed Facebook on a single day, with the average Facebook user having over 130 “friends.”

But even more surprising, he said that 50% of Americans today now get their news and analysis about important events— sometimes edited or changed as it is passed along— from friends and family, often via social networks, text or email rather than from traditional media sources.

Prior to the 21st century, when Americans had only a few national media choices and limited local media, we would all receive the same original message at the same time, thus creating a shared American experience.

Today, in the U.S. alone Americans can choose to receive information from any of an estimated 1,476 daily newspapers; 1,500 television stations; 10,322 radio stations; 71 million cable television subscribers with hundreds of TV channels each; and more than 12 billion web pages and social media.

Kirkpatrick and others say the combination of the “Facebook effect”, media proliferation, and message selectivity have contributed to the erosion of our common, shared national experience.

GPO’s role in preserving our common American experience

As we mentioned in our blog last week, GPO’s mission for over 150 years has been “Keeping America Informed” about the three branches of the Federal Government.  This mission drives us to ensure the original information produced by Federal Agencies on behalf of the American people can be found by all Americans now and in the future.

What’s involved in capturing and disseminating our common Governmental information? It starts with gathering the content from Federal Agencies and publishing it in a professional format, whether print or digital. It then continues with authenticating the information to ensure Americans are getting the “genuine” unaltered information; creating permanent records with our catalog teams for our own FDSys digital database and Catalog of Government Publications; distributing these records to libraries in our Federal Depository Library Program and to worldwide library databases like WorldCat; and sending physical copies and/or ebooks to libraries, bookstores and book etailers.

View this video for an inside look at how GPO assembles and prints the Congressional Record—the official record of the proceedings, debates, and activities of Congress.

To keep America informed digitally, we allow users to subscribe to email newsletters by topic and are also now on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare and Yelp.

GPO Publications about shared American experiences

Here are some of my favorite Federal publications GPO has published that document significant shared American experiences over the past century. Do you remember when and how you learned of these events?

What are some of the significant national experiences that you will never forget and how did you learn about them and share them with others?

We would love to hear from you!

 

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for marketing the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


A Closer Look at the FBI

April 7, 2011

Guest blogger Kelly Seifert has found a real page-turner of a Government book.

There’s something captivating about the inner workings and countless cases of the FBI. Who hasn’t thought about how interesting it must be to serve as an FBI agent? I think there’s something mysterious and fascinating about the professionals working around the globe to protect the Nation and its citizens.

In 2008, the FBI celebrated its 100 anniversary and, as part of that celebration, released, The FBI: A Centennial History, 1908-2008. This 130-page coffee table book features detailed accounts of more than 40 famous FBI cases; over 300 photographs, including many never before seen by the public; and abundant reference materials on fallen agents, FBI Directors, and more.

The book traces the FBI’s journey from fledgling startup to one of the most respected and recognized names in national security. It covers World War I and the early days of terrorism, the gangster era of the 1920s and 30s, World War II and the Cold War, the 60s and its civil rights movement, the Watergate years, the rise of global terror and crime, and the post 9/11 era.

Especially intriguing is the FBI’s transformation over time. The advances in technology and instruments the Bureau uses in protecting our national security, combined with its growth from 34 to 30,000 agents over the years, makes for an exciting and absorbing read. Find The FBI: A Centennial History, 1908-2008 online, get your own copy and settle in for a thrilling ride here, or investigate it at a library.


Critical Thinking and Missile Crises

June 11, 2010

Government Book Talk got quite a bit of traffic for last Friday’s review of  Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq, so I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss another book just in from the National Defense Intelligence College. Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis is a study of the practice of critical thinking – which can be defined as simultaneously thinking and thinking about thinking as a means of an analyst “coming to a solution and improving the way her or she reasons.” Although the application of this reasoning technique to intelligence analysis is the focus of the book, the discussion of what critical thinking is, its advantages over either inductive or deductive reasoning, and its value in the analysis of a wide variety of problems and situations makes it a useful tool for academics, business people, or anyone else needing to analyze a particular scenario or set of evidence.

Because I’m not a heavily abstract thinker, I found the author’s case study very useful in getting a better handle on how the absence of critical thinking can result in a major intelligence failure. Prior to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, American intelligence analysts had received so much false or exaggerated information on Soviet military activities – including reports of Mongolian and Chinese troops –  that they seemed to believe that any such reports had to be untrue. Disinformation on the part of the Soviets added to the analysts’ disinclination to think critically about the intelligence they were receiving, so the discovery of offensive Soviet missiles was a total surprise to them.  The book also draws analogies to the failure of intelligence during the lead up to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and in the 2002 failure to detect the absence of weapons of mass destruction prior to the second U.S. war with Iraq.

The verdict: an excellent textbook for the teaching of critical thinking (there’s a syllabus in the Appendix) and a very interesting take on a crucial episode in Cold War history. You can read it here and buy it here. To find it in a library, go here.


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