The Cold War, Paperback
4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


A brilliantly arresting historical work, John Lewis Gaddis' "The Cold War" takes us as never before to the time when the world stood on the brink of destruction.

In 1945 war came to an end. But a whole new terror was only just beginning...Here is the truth behind every spy thriller you've read: why America and the Soviet Union became locked in a deadly stalemate; how close we came to nuclear catastrophe; what was really going on in the minds of leaders from Stalin to Mao Zedong, Ronald Reagan to Mikhail Gorbachev, how secret agents plotted and East German holidaymakers helped the Berlin Wall fall.

It is a story of crisis talks and subterfuge, tyrants and power struggles - and of ordinary people changing the course of history. "Gripping". (Len Deighton). "Superb ...brimful of racy incident". ("Independent on Sunday"). "A lively and readable history". ("The Times"). "Force 9 on the Richter scale". ("Spectator"). John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale University, and 'the dean of cold war historians' ("The New York Times"). He is the author of numerous books, including "Security" and the "American Experience", the book recently pressed on his cabinet and senior security staff by President Bush.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, 16pp b/w
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780141025322



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Review by

Have you stopped worrying about the Cold War and the threat for the end of Humanity? The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis explains why you have and why you were right to worry. It gives an historical overview of the different phrases of the Cold War from its on set in the late 1940’S to its demise in 1989. It develops important ideas such as in an era of total war and destruction then a major war ceases to have any political relevance. Access to the contemporary records shows time and time again that the political classes I the USA, UK, USSR and China came to similar conclusions when faced with the cultural conflicts of the 60’s , having to be in bed with unnatural allies, etcIt also sets out that in the 20-50s it was not clear whose ideas of the state, politics, human rights etc would win. What saved us from the authoritarian states that 1984 fears is that liberal capitalism was able to deliver greater living standards then the controlled economies. Its food for thought what would have happen if the USSR had been able to become the economic powerhouse that communist china is now. In the 70’s political activities focused on freezing the superpower relationship and the post war settlement as fact of life but in giving a legitimacy to human rights it quicken the demise of communist legitimacy that its economic failures compounded. In the 80’s the smoke and mirrors that kept up the illusion of the USSR superpower finally imploded.The approach reminds me of the story from china in the 1960's when a senior leader of the communist party was asked what he thought of the success and failures of the French revolution. He replied its too early to say! The origin of the book was a student's plea that he could update his massive history of the Cold War of the 50s and 60's so it covered the whole period but with fewer words. He succeeds with a well written, informative and at times jaw dropping account of the incompetence of our rulers!

Review by

Bought at Heathrow for the usual trillion-dollar mark up that books in the UK have. So far, tremendously good. (5.25.07)Finally finished (6.29.07) - interrupted by 6 Harry Potters. Basically a solid overview. It's amazing how little I know about the Cold War. I'm reminded of the Simpsons in which school lets out and as the children are streaming out the door, the teachers interjects 'wait! kids! don't you want to know how world war 2 ended?"

Review by

Great primer on the post-war world. I just cast Frederick Taylor's "Berlin Wall" into the cancer shop bag, but I'm holding on to the Cold War. Pretty soon we'll have forgotten all this ever happened. Why does the Cold War world still feel a more hopeful one than today's? (Discuss.)