The First Domino
International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956
Cold War
6.125 x 9.25, 344 pp.
Pub Date: 12/15/2003
Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe
Price:        $49.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The First Domino

International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956

By Johanna Granville
Foreword by Raymond L. Garthoff

A Fascinating Analysis Based on Newly Declassified Documents from the Former USSR and Communist Bloc

In the spring and summer of 1956 the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to reassert strict communist rule. Patterns of Misperception: International Decision Making in the 1956 Hungarian Crisis is the first analytical monograph in English drawing on new archival collections from East bloc countries to reinterpret decision making during this Cold War crisis. Johanna Granville selects four key patterns of misperception as laid out by Columbia University political scientist Robert Jervis and shows how these patterns prevailed in the military crackdown and in other countries' reactions to it.

Granville perceptively examines the statements and actions of Soviet Presidium members, the Hungarian leadership, U.S. policy makers, and even Yugoslav and Polish leaders. According to Granville, Soviet first secretary Nikita Khrushchev zigzagged ineptly between policy options with apparently little or no analysis of costs and risks, permitting Moscow’s Eastern European satellites at times to subtly manipulate the Kremlin's decision making. Granville’s discussions of Polish policy, Yugoslav actions, and the arduous process of normalization after the uprising show that the Soviets were preoccupied with stemming what many of them construed as a Western-encouraged attempt to undermine Eastern Europe’s communist regimes.

Granville concludes that the United States bears some responsibility for the events of 1956, as ill-advised U.S. covert actions may have convinced the Soviet leaders that the United States was attempting to weaken Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe, although the Eisenhower administration actually intended only to sow confusion and dissatisfaction.

This masterful study leads to the conclusion that the Hungarian Crisis in 1956 was most likely sustained by self-perpetuating misperceptions and suspicions among key countries. In short, Granville's multi-archival research tends to confirm the post-revisionists' theory about the cold war: it was everyone's fault and no one's fault. It resulted from the emerging bipolar structure of the international system, the power vacuum in Europe's center, and spiraling misconceptions.

JOHANNA GRANVILLE is a recent resident scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, as well as at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. A recipient of Fulbright, IREX, Kennan Institute, and ACTR grants, she spent many years conducting archival research in Moscow, Budapest, and Warsaw. She served as visiting civilian professor at the United States Air War College, assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and teaching fellow at Harvard University. She is a graduate of Amherst College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University).

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . a fascinating study, meticulously documented, that not only sheds new light on an agonizing incident in the Cold War, but shows how it fits with theories of decision-making. Using archives from several countries, Granville demonstrates that leaders woefully misunderstood each other, had very different perspectives, and failed to realize that their views were not shared.”--—Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, Columbia University; President, American Political Science Association; and author, Perception and Misperception in International Politics

“. . . Granville has combined new information with thoughtful analysis to enrich our understanding of one important event in Cold War history, and thus contributes to a better understanding of the broader canvas of that history as well.” --Raymond L. Garthoff, former CIA Analyst; Ambassador to Bulgaria; Senior Analy

“. . . With her extensive scholarly examination of the Soviet intervention in Hungary, Johanna Granville makes a wonderful contribution to the new field of international --Vladislav Zubok, Temple University, and author, Inside the Kremlin’s Cold
cold war history. With a wealth of new sources from the former East Bloc, Granville recreates the true atmosphere of the biggest crisis in the communist world after Stalin's death, a bizarre mixture of ideological rigidity, fears, hopes, and disastrous misperceptions. I hope that not only --Vladislav Zubok, Temple University, and author, Inside the Kremlin’s Cold
Westerners, but Russians, will be able to read this book.” --Vladislav Zubok, Temple University, and author, Inside the Kremlin’s Cold

“This is the best available analysis of the international history of the 1956 Hungarian rebellion against Communism. Dr. Granville has written a book that through first-rate research brings together the key sources on that crisis and that thereby helps explain the decisions reached not only in Budapest and Moscow, but also in Washington, Beijing, and Belgrade.” --Odd Arne Westad, London School of Economics, and author, Reviewing

“A pioneering work on East European Cold War history, this is a remarkable study of Cold War history because the author has availed herself of recently opened Soviet and other archives to describe how Hungary became the first “domino” in a process that “resulted ultimately in the Soviet Union’s loss of hegemony over Eastern Europe in 1989.” --The Washington Times

“Johanna Granville is one of the most industrious and talented of the scholars who have seized upon new archival opportunities to deepen our understanding of the Cold War.” --History: Reviews of New Books

“Johanna Granville’s The First Domino brings new evidence and insight to a well studied topic... should appeal to many different audiences–– Cold War students, East European scholars, military historians, and political scientists. Its lessons on the limits of military force and pitfalls associated with decision making are timeless and make it particularly valuable for use at staff and war colleges.” --The Journal of Military History

“. . . the first book in English comprehensively to cover both the domestic and foreign policy aspects of the 1956 revolution using the newly available archival material.” --Slavonic and East European Review

“. . . it stands with the finest work available in either English or Hungarian on the events of the revolution.” --International Affairs

“. . . path-breaking monograph . . . It is the best English-language study of the subject so far and deserves a wide readership.” --The Russian Review


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