Cold War recommendation?

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Cold War recommendation?

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feb 14, 2008, 12:06 pm

BBC4, here in the UK, have just finished a rather good short series on political summits. The programmes focused on:
- Munich 1938 (Chamberlain & Hitler)
- Vienna 1961 (Kennedy & Khrushchev)
- Geneva 1985 (Gorbachev & Reagan)
The last two were selected because of their importance to the beginning and the ending of the main period of the Cold War.

Watching these got me thinking about how shockingly little I know about the details of the Cold War, even though it was an ever-present situation for most of my life. I feel rather ashamed of my ignorance. So, I figure, I should do something about it.

Can anybody recommend a good overview book about this episode in world history?

Redigerat: feb 15, 2008, 1:24 pm

I tend to focus on the naval sides of things but I would recommend Chronology of the Cold War at Sea 1945-1991 by Eric Wertheim and The Fifty-Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War by Norman Friedman.

feb 18, 2008, 6:28 am

I think the Wertheim is probably too specific for me. I nearly went for the Friedman -- thanks for that recommendation. I may pick that up if I want another perspective. But I've decided, after a bit of research, to go with The Cold War : a History by Martin Walker, as I already know I respect his journalism.

Cheers, though.

aug 5, 2008, 7:35 pm

The most recent edition of Walter LaFeber's America, Russia, and the Cold War would serve as a decent introduction to the topic. Likewise, if you are interested in an accessible and relatively comprehensive study of the Soviet Union, I would recommend The Soviet Century by Moshe Lewin.

feb 18, 2011, 10:35 am

Eric Hobsbawm' Age of Extremes is good

feb 18, 2011, 10:35 am

A number of books by William Appleman Williams are good for guidance.

feb 18, 2011, 10:37 am

And for case histories that explicate the schemata of the cold war there a number of good histories of the Vietnam war, the Greek civil war, and the immediate post WWII nuclear negotiations.

feb 13, 2012, 4:02 pm

"America and the Imperialism of Ignorance" by Andrew Alexander is mostly about the cold war, but goes on to talk about the middle east. The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor talks about the cold war in Europe. The best one is Revolution 1989 by Victor Sebestyen which concentrates on the late 1970's onwards. These books deal with the political side of things. If you want the military hardware, try osprey books.

dec 5, 2012, 2:50 pm

je viens juste d'acheter / i just bought : "1944-1947 : la guerre et après "

Pierre Stephany.

Il a de très bonnes critiques en France / Very good appréciations from the french critics...

dec 6, 2012, 9:31 am

John Lewis Gaddis's slim introductory volume The Cold War: A New History is quite readable.

apr 30, 2013, 4:41 am


apr 30, 2013, 4:45 am

When the Cold War began

Redigerat: apr 30, 2013, 7:49 am

Hearty AMEN to Rick's plugs for Willie Williams (God rest him). I also cannot say enough about THE CAUSES OF WORLD WAR THREE by C. Wright Mills. The writing style is unrelievedly heavy, but the analyisis is profound, and not without its applicabilty to events even today.
Now, on that score, let me climb on the soap-box for a moment. I may well throw something pungent and odious at the next clown -- almost always a White man from the Western world -- who lectures us that "things can never be the same since Nine-Eleven". The latter-day version is "Things can never be the same after the Boston Marathon". Fact is -- and many of us have lived through this -- that the threat of massive destruction by seemingly uncontrollable forces -- has been a fact of life at-least since the late days of World War Two. Mills is particularly good at pulling back far enough to see that modern war is an immense racket, whose practitioners (and beneficiaries) are a lot more like each other than they are like the people they supposedly represent (and "defend").
Not-so-incidentally, I note the omission of any work by John Lukacs. Despite his apparent conservatism, he is very sound, and pre-dates most, if not all the works listed above. It is noteworthy that he showed great understanding without benefit of all the archival material which became avaiable in the last thirty years. Happy hunting! -- Goddard
Speaking of far less apocalyptic matters, is anybody else having the Devil's own time with the Touchstone option here?

apr 30, 2013, 1:01 pm

Well this is rather late for the OP, but I neglected to respond at the time and someone else might happen upon the topic. Here's my suggested list:

General overview text: America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2006 by Walter LaFeber

Somewhat more focused: A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 by Marc Trachtenberg, The Making of the Second Cold War by Fred Halliday, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times by Odd Arne Westad

Soviet foreign policy: Expansion and Coexistence by Adam Bruno Ulam, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev by Vladislav Zubok

US foreign policy: America's Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After by Thomas J. McCormick