The Hot "Cold War" is a book discussing the Soviet government's support to various Southern African liberation movements in the 1960's-1990's including Angola, Rhodesia, and Mozambique. It is broken down into support by country and details various phases of their support for each nation. It discusses both the personal interactions, personalities, and types of material and political support given and the authors own involvement in this support.
The book suffers from a number of issues. Firstly, is the the organization and flow of the book - particularly early on. The Angola sections especially saw the author jump around to various topics from paragraph to paragraph necessitating that I read several chapters twice to get a basic understanding of what was going on. The later chapters are much easier to follow, but all of the sections in the book largely require the reader to have a good understanding of the history of the conflicts and major players to be able to read the sections without rereading.
More importantly, the author portrays the book as an academic pursuit (and indeed was published by an academic press), yet it strays dangerously into reductionist East-West conclusions frequently. At times it reads almost like a time capsule with thinly veiled barbs at the Chinese, Gorbachev, and all other things that were loathe to the Soviets almost 30 years ago. Too often the author displays the Soviets as brave pioneers seeking to help the Africans solely out of altruistic reasons. Conversely, it conveys the colonial powers and Western governments as conniving at every turn to prop up the South Africans, Rhodesians, and Portuguese. How one argues this when most of these governments were imposing embargoes on them (at least the first two) would bear some explaining. Furthermore, the author falls into the same trap as Conflicting Missions (which discusses Cuban involvement on the continent) in failing to justify the raison d'etat of how Soviet/Cuban involvement was more justified in South West Africa and Angola than the South African's was. The post-script of the book - containing a brief, yet glib, dismissal of all current problems as being little more than the result of America's quest for world domination in the face of the collapse of the Soviet Union. This I might be able to concede some points if Shubin mustered even a mention of the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslavakia, their assistance for massive repression in the GDR/DDR, and the country's own invasion of Afghanistan. As it is, Shubin almost begs the reader to discredit his entire text as a result. Lastly, though heavily citing sources, a glance through the ends notes reveals that they rely almost exclusively on Soviet, Cuban, and liberation struggle member accounts, which hardly lends any credence to the claims against the enemy, though the author is hardly alone in this type of practice.
As an American I know I have a certain level of bias to give my government a measure of leeway, but Shubin most often comes off as a petulant child, still determined to prove the justness of the cause of a system that no longer exists. To this extent, this book is both maddening and a disappointment, as it saw a dearth of knowledge on a particular topic, then failed to treat it honestly.
Nevertheless, the book does provide a useful insight into the types and extent of support given to the different movements. For this the book is relevant to those interested in learning more about this particular facet of the Southern African liberation movements - if you're willing to trudge through the negative aspects and the, at times blatant, bias of the book. Those interested in this vein of African conflicts, should also look into Conflicting Missions,
Ultimately, the seems to combine the worse elements of academic dryness and popular non-fiction bombasticism, though students of these conflicts may find some worth to reading this title.