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Good introduction to the Cold War
on 14 August 2006
Gaddis has succeeded in producing a concise history of the Cold War from its beginnings prior to WWII to its end in the early 1990s. The book's great strength is in how it subtly ties disparate events from across the world over several decades into a compelling narrative.
While many reviews of the Cold War deal with its geo-strategic and economic aspects, Gaddis describes the evolution of the Cold War through the actions of its major characters, from Stalin to Gorbachev, Eisenhower to Reagan. This focus makes the book a welcome complement to histories of the War with a more strategic or economic emphasis; it does, however, alao mean the book is lacking in discussion of those aspects of the conflict.
Those familiar with the period should know that the book's brevity means that peripheral events such as the United States' intervention in El Salvador or Nicaragua receive only a passing mention, while even more crucial episodes such as the Cuban Missile Crisis are covered in just a few pages. Nevertheless, the book achieves what it sets out to do. It would make an ideal introduction to the period for the undergraduate or for those with an interest in, but little prior knowledge of the Cold War.