The Twilight Struggle

What the Cold War Teaches Us about Great-Power Rivalry Today

Hal Brands

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A leading historian’s guide to great-power competition, as told through America’s successes and failures in the Cold War

The United States is entering an era of great-power competition with China and Russia. Such global struggles happen in a geopolitical twilight, between the sunshine of peace and the darkness of war. In this innovative and illuminating book, Hal Brands, a leading historian and former Pentagon adviser, argues that America should look to the history of the Cold War for lessons in how to succeed in great-power rivalry today. Although the threat posed by authoritarian powers is growing, America’s muscle memory for dealing with dangerous foes has atrophied in the thirty years since the Cold War ended. In long-term competitions where the diplomatic jockeying is intense and the threat of violence is omnipresent, the United States will need all the historical insight it can get. Exploring how America won a previous twilight struggle is the starting point for determining how America can successfully prosecute another high-stakes rivalry today.

Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.

“Good strategy starts with an understanding of history. And no one has thought harder about the lessons of the past than Hal Brands. If you want to know how America can win today's rivalries with Russia and China, read this book about how it triumphed in another twilight struggle: the Cold War.”— Stephen J. Hadley, national security adviser to President George W. Bush

“Sometimes to truly understand the future, you must deeply examine the past.  Hal Brands brings the profound lessons of the US-Soviet cold war to the unfolding competition with China in The Twilight Struggle.Admiral James Stavridis, US Navy (Ret.), 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and author of Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

“A masterful account of the Cold War, the perils along the way, and the elements of the U.S.-led western strategy that won that war without ever firing a shot and a superb distillation of the lessons that the always-impressive Brands takes from that struggle as we enter a similar era of renewed great-power rivalries. This is a must-read for those seeking to illuminate the way forward with insights gleaned from the past.”—General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition/US Forces in Afghanistan and former Director of the CIA

“This thoughtful, evocative, and captivating book is one of the best you can read to understand how America has won long-term strategic competitions with other great powers in the past, and the hard choices that are likely ahead in the brewing long-term competition with China.”—Robert O. Work, 32nd U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense
ISBN: 9780300250787
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
328 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
The Lessons of Tragedy

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Hal Brands and Charles Edel

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