Post Wall, Post Square: How Bush, Gorbachev, Kohl, and Deng Shaped the World after 1989
Yale University Press, 2020, $40.00
The world’s exit from the Cold War, argues historian Kristina Spohr, is really a two-fold story: one set in Berlin, where the fall of the Berlin Wall put an end to communism and inspired electoral revolutions across Europe, and one in Beijing, where Deng Xiaoping’s crackdown at Tiananmen Square put a brutal end to a burgeoning protest movement. We cannot understand one event without the other, Spohr argues—and we cannot understand the world that emerged without careful attention to the diplomatic decisions made in the dizzying aftermath of both events.
In Post Wall, Post Square: How Bush, Gorbachev, Kohl, and Deng Shaped the World after 1989, Spohr offers a sweeping diplomatic history of the period, showing how the “conservative diplomacy” of leaders like George H.W. Bush and Helmut Kohl helped usher in a peaceful new order, while also exploring how missed opportunities and blindspots created tensions that remain with us today.
Kristina Spohr is the Helmut Schmidt Distinguished Professor at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). This week, she joins host Richard Aldous to discuss the book. Be sure to tune in and follow @aminterest on Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the app of your choice.