This issue begins with an article by Rory Cormac, who explores Great Britain's heavy reliance on covert propaganda and front organizations (so-called “black” operations, which entailed “the purposeful manipulation of the perceptions of a target audience through the use of disinformation or deception”) from 1951 through 1977. Although the Soviet Union and its Communist allies were avid practitioners of black propaganda throughout the Cold War, recently declassified archival materials reveal that the British government's Information Research Department (IRD) engaged in similar tactics far more often than previously realized, including fakes, forgeries, and aggressive rhetoric. British operations were spurred in part by Cold War considerations but were also shaped by the process of decolonization. The IRD's black operations against the Soviet Union and other Communist states were designed not only to combat those states ideologically but also, even more, to augment British influence in former colonies in Africa and Asia. Cormac's revelations thus underscore the complex links between the Cold War and the process of decolonization of European overseas empires.

The next article, by Glennys Young, reevaluates the international position of Spain in the early years of the Cold War. The standard interpretation has been that Spain, having remained neutral in the Second World War (and sympathetic toward the Axis), was ostracized after the war and kept out of major international organizations, including the United Nations and even institutions set up to withstand Soviet aggression and curb the spread of Communist influence. Young argues that, despite Spain's initial exclusion from various organizations, the country was not isolated or left to fend for itself. All the major powers forged close links with Spain and tried to devise cooperative arrangements with the Spanish government from 1945 on. Far from being isolated in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Spain was able to use informal means to pursue an active diplomatic, economic, and cultural agenda from 1946 on, laying all the groundwork for its formal integration into various international organizations and Cold War–era forums.

The next article, by Ylber Marku, discusses the sharp fluctuations in Albania's foreign policy during the first few decades of the Cold War. The Albanian leader Enver Hoxha and his Yugoslav counterpart, Josip Broz Tito, oversaw Communist partisan guerrillas during World War II who fought to establish Communist regimes in their countries in the aftermath of the war—a quest that proved successful. Once the fighting was over, Albania was closely tied to Yugoslavia for a brief while, but Hoxha increasingly came to resent what he saw as Tito's desire to absorb Albania into Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union's decision in June 1948 to expel Yugoslavia from the Soviet-dominated Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) gave Hoxha the opportunity he needed to break ties with Yugoslavia and realign Albania with the USSR as its chief patron. The alliance between Albania and the Soviet Union was particularly strong during the reign of Joseph Stalin, whom Hoxha idolized and sought to emulate. After Stalin's death in March 1953, Albania remained closely allied with the USSR and became a founding member of the Warsaw Pact. Nonetheless, fissures soon began to appear, especially after Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, pursued a rapprochement with Yugoslavia in 1955 and launched a de-Stalinization campaign in 1956. By the end of the 1950s, as a split emerged between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China (PRC), a wide rift also developed between Moscow and Tirana. In the early 1960s, Albania openly aligned itself with the PRC and ceased all cooperation with the Soviet Union. In the early 1970s, however, Hoxha opposed Mao Zedong's decision to normalize relations with the United States, and the Albanian alliance with China abruptly ended. From that point on, Albania eschewed alliances with any other country and adopted a position of maximum isolation.

The next article, by Péter Vámos, discusses how relations evolved between Hungary, a close ally of the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact, with the PRC after the momentous events of 1956, when Soviet troops invaded Hungary to crush a revolution. In the late 1950s, Hungarian geophysicists played a crucial role in designing geological surveys that detected huge oil deposits in China's Songliao Basin, which, under its later name, Daqing, became the largest oil field in the PRC. Vámos draws on declassified archival materials, Chinese and Hungarian memoirs, and interviews with participants in the geophysical expedition to reconstruct the evolution of Sino-Hungarian scientific cooperation and set it in the larger context of the devastation and suffering wrought by Mao's Great Leap Forward, the increasingly bitter dispute between the Soviet Union and the PRC, and the efforts by Hungary to reestablish its role in the Soviet bloc after the disruption caused by the Hungarian revolution. The article sheds light on scientific exchanges within the Communist bloc and the way these were affected by Cold War events and the burgeoning Sino-Soviet split.

The next article, by Robert Pee and Scott Lucas, reevaluates the Reagan administration's promotion of liberalization and democratization in allied authoritarian countries. President Ronald Reagan and other officials in his administration took a strong stance against tyranny and human rights abuses in Soviet-bloc countries from the very start, but by the mid-1980s key figures in the administration had concluded that the United States also needed to press friendly authoritarian governments to liberalize their systems and allow for greater freedom in order to mitigate the risk that anti-American opposition movements would become strong enough to seize power. Pee and Lucas survey the general U.S. policy on democracy promotion and then focus on three cases—the Philippines, South Korea, and Chile. In South Korea, U.S. officials encouraged far-reaching reform of the system, including free elections that led to the emergence of a democratic government. In the Philippines and later in Chile the United States promoted replacement of authoritarian systems through free elections that brought moderate opposition figures to power. By explaining when and why U.S. officials sought to promote democracy during the Cold War, Pee and Lucas shed light on how the policy evolved and expanded (with mixed results) in the post–Cold War era.

The final article, by Amy King and Sherzod Muminov, examines the fate of the more than 6.5 million Japanese who ended up outside Japan after the Second World War, including hundreds of thousands who were stranded for many years in the Soviet Union and mainland China. King and Muminov offer a comparative analysis of the policies adopted by the Soviet and Chinese Communists toward the Japanese expatriates. Differences between the Chinese and Soviet parties in their policies vis-à-vis the stranded Japanese began to emerge during the Chinese Civil War in 1945–1949, which culminated in the Chinese Communists’ ascendance to power on the mainland. These differences persisted and increased over the next several years, especially on such issues as repatriation, daily upkeep, and reeducation and propaganda. Because the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists were largely identical in their Marxist-Leninist outlooks and were staunchly allied in the first half of the 1950s, their differences regarding the displaced Japanese stemmed not from ideological and geopolitical differences but from the two countries’ disparate experiences during three wars in East Asia in the first half of the twentieth century: the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, the Second World War, and the Chinese Civil War. China was brutally occupied by Imperial Japanese forces from 1937 to 1945, whereas the Soviet Union did not fight at all with Japan until the final days of the Second World War, but the irony is that, after 1945, the Communist Chinese were far more lenient toward the stranded Japanese than the Soviet Union was.

The issue ends with twelve book reviews.