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Cold War: For Forty-five Years the World Held its Breath [Paperback]

Jeremy Isaacs , Taylor Downing
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: £14.99
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Book Description

7 Aug 2008

Cold War is the story of the half-century since the end of the Second World War - the story of our lives. Its framework is the confrontation, military and ideological, between two great powers that dominated the world during these years. It is a story of crises and conflict on a global scale: from the Berlin Blockade and the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the tanks in the streets of Warsaw, Budapest and Prague, to spies, student riots and encounters in space.

In Cold War, Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing record epic history through the detail of individual human experience: the recollections not only of statesmen whose decisions led to these momentous events, but also of the ordinary men and women whose lives were bound up in these years of conflict. Cold War is the first comprehensive history for the general reader to benefit from the recent opening of Soviet, East European and Chinese archives as well as formerly classified American documents. In a driving narrative that it both gripping and informative, the true story of the Cold War can at last be told.

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Cold War: For Forty-five Years the World Held its Breath + The Cold War + Student Support Materials for History - Edexcel A2 Unit 3 Option E2: A World Divided: Superpower Relations, 1944-90
Price For All Three: £25.12

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; UNKNOWN edition (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349120803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349120805
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Taylor Downing is a best-selling author and historian and an award-winning television producer. He worked at the Imperial War Museum and Thames Television and then for more than 25 years he ran the highly successful independent television production company, Flashback Television, where he produced more than 200 historical documentaries. He writes popular histories and also books about film and television. Most Amazon reviewers say his books are great reads and some reviewers say they have read them in a single sitting! His professional reviews have all been positive and one reviewer of 'Night Raid' said the book should be turned into a feature film as it would be as popular as 'The Dam Busters'. Taylor regularly gives talks at book festivals and lectures at universities which have been very popular. He can be contacted through his website www.taylordowning.com

Product Description


An excellent one-volume history of forty-five years of superpower rivalry (GUARDIAN)

Book Description

*A comprehensive and accessible account of a crucial period in recent world history

*Originally published as a tie-in to the critically acclaimed CNN and BBC series

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blowing hot and cold 11 Feb 2010
This is a first-rate history of the Cold War. It is very accessible and easy to read, whereas these non-fiction books often aren't. You can tell this book accompanied a television series and this sometimes manifests itself in being a little dumbed down, but only a little. This book is best as a first and general view of the whole situation. For a more in-depth study an interested reader can probably look to the bibliography for inspiration. I'm not really complaining. I never really had to re-read a single sentence. The book says in the preface that it's written in broadly chronological order and this is true. It isn't exactly chronological, but it near enough is. I enjoyed reading it immensely and learned many new things about the activities of the USA and USSR that I didn't know before. It's not simply a case of defenders of freedom versus the "evil empire" and the consistent meddling in other countries' affairs in proxy wars and coups disabused me of many notions I had about the USA before reading this. Overall I will say that this is quite a pessimistic book. It just goes to show that mankind will never change. There will be more wars, more atrocities, more ethnic cleasing and more totalitarian regimes. America's influence will wane whilst, probably, China will wax into the 21st century. But will Beijing restructure and liberalise?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable account of the Cold War 19 April 2009
Having read a few books now on the Cold War I have always been left to piece the puzzle together myself as the chapters jumped frm crisis to crisis rather than follow a chronological order. This book does things as they should be done - it tells the story as the events happened: in chronological order.

The book came with some serious pedigree as one of the authors is the producer of the classic World at War series and having read the book you come away feeling as well informed as you did having watched the World at War series. Nothing is left to chance. The authors make the events very interesting and even have little snippets of information that need to be included but would disrupt the flow of the book in boxes, such as background informaton on Kruschev, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the AK-47 etc.

Overall, a very good read that comes highly recommended. The only slight negative is that, as with most books on the Cold War, they take an American viewpoint on more than one occasion and often leave out other players in the Cold War, e.g. Britian.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good broad-based sweep of the Cold War 21 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has been written as an accompaniment to the TV series for the layman who has a general interest in the key developments of the Cold War - that frightening geopolitical and military scenario that dominated the planet, principally between 1946-1991. There's no heavy academic investigation here into Marxism or capitalism, instead we have a part-historical and part-analytical summary of the main aspects of the Cold War. Beginning with the embers of World War 2, this book then takes you through how the Warsaw Pact gradually developed and onto a host of USSR v USA proxy battles such as Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Angola, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. Other topics include details on missile developments and even the socio-cultural backgrounds within the Western and Eastern blocks.

The book's structure is very useful as everything is offered in reasonably sized chunks and occasional pit stops are made to provide more detailed insights into a variety of supplementary elements such as the Manhattan Project, short biographies e.g. of Stalin and J. Edgar Hoover, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, the most powerful bomb ever exploded at Novaia Zemlya in 1961, China's Cultural Revolution, the Prague Spring of 1968, the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Soviet airspace in 1983, the Star Wars idea, Chernobyl in 1986 and glasnost.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Of course, producing such a broad sweeping text means that depth has been sacrificed for breadth of coverage. So, if you're looking for a more specific and detailed look into any of the topics discussed here e.g.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good accompaniment to the TV show 6 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Documenting over 40 years of history as complex as the Cold War was never going to be easy but credit goes to Jeremy Isaac in trying to replicate the magic he made with World At War. The book is essentially an accompaniment to the 24 part TV program of the same name that was aired on CNN. You can catch these programs as they can be found on YouTube. I throughly recommend you read a chapter than watch the accompanying TV episode. The reason to do this is because the TV episodes will cover areas in more detail than the book. The book only quotes small passages of people who were at center stage of events folding while the TV program will give these people more time to explain what they saw or did.

If you want to know detailed knowledge on the Cuban Missile Crises, Berlin Wall, Korean War, Vietnam and other Cold War events than this is not the book but if you want an overview of what, why and how things happened during those 40 years than this is an excellent introduction....or you could watch it all on YouTube.

The conclusion is excellent and overall it is fair judge of history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
An interesting read whether you are studying history or not. Good reference book for anyone studying A level history. Excellent condition and prompt arrival.
Published 7 months ago by Colina Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written
For anyone with an interest in 20th century history or specifically the Cold War this is an excellent book, brilliantly written with each chapter dealing with a specific aspect or... Read more
Published 9 months ago by C. Levett
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect condition
The book arrived in fairly good time, in immaculate condition. For an A2 History student this book is exceptionally helpful. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Naomi
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, but too shallow
I initially purchased this book as reading material to help me in my AS History course which is about US intervention in Asia (Korea/Vietnam), I have read both chapters regarding... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Seb B
4.0 out of 5 stars a good overview of the cold war
This book provides a splendid one volume introduction to modern history post World War II, with particular reference to the United States and the former Soviet Union. Read more
Published on 9 April 2012 by markr
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight
A very lightweight review of such a momentous period in our recent history. The writing style is very simplistic, it feels as though it is aimed a a high-school reader with short... Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2012 by Peterinkal
5.0 out of 5 stars The DVD? When?
This was an excellent book and a superb tv series. I just cannot understand why it has not been brought out on DVD?
Published on 21 Aug 2011 by A. Goodall
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
You can not put this book down once you open it! It opens your eyes to how close the world came to total destruction.

Worth every penny!
Published on 22 April 2010 by E. Hughes
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