The Cold War Paperback – 25 Jan 2007
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'Compelling ... Gaddis has deliberately written the Cold War for
'Force 9 on the Richter Scale' -- Spectator
'Gripping' -- Len Deighton
'Superb ... brimful of racy incident' -- Independent on Sunday
About the Author
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Whilst I enjoyed the book I couldnt help feeling that the author was more than a little one eyed when coming to many of his conclusions, and I do wonder about his seeming hero worship of Ronald Reagan. Was Reagan really, as Gaddis suggests, one of the most skilled politicians the US had had for many years, and one of its sharpest ever grand strategists? Was it really his great strength that he was possesed of an ability to see beyond complexity to simplicity? Im not so sure..
In short, worth a read as an introduction.
Readers may disagree with many of the judgements Gaddis makes about the Cold War. Certainly, the author writes from an American perspective and so, for example, sees the moral values espoused by the US in the Cold War as more enlightened than those of Britain and France: a view that takes account of European colonialism but neglects other issues. There are also one or two factual errors e.g. he states that Dresden was destroyed by the US. But personally, I found that he gives a generally illuminating account of how the Cold War developed, in particular, of how allies, domestic politicians, dissidents and others were increasingly able to exert influence and pressure on the superpower duo as the Cold War developed. I also generally found his judgements concerning US and Soviet leaders convincing. Reagan did play a huge role in bringing the Cold War to an end and Gaddis puts this down to his strategic vision and grasp of the essential nature of the Soviet Union.Read more ›
The layout of the book is extremely poor and jumps from one thing to another without any real semblance of method. You will find yourself reading about Stalin one minute, then Kruschev the next and finally back to Stalin again. Very confusing and giving the appearance that he has something of an obsession with Stalin.
His assertion that the US achieved its amazing industrial power due to a lack of Government intervention is a neo-con line which is not supported in fact. Most US Government war contracts were designed to fulfil Government specifications. His claim that Americans in 1945 lived in the freest society on the planet is unsupportable. Obviously he has never been to Australia, New Zealand or Eire. When he said nobody knows how the Berlin Blockade started, I couldn't believe my eyes! Both Hilton and Taylor explain it in their respective books on the Berlin Wall.
He spends barely a page on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and scarcely bothers to explain that the missiles were installed because of fears that the US would invade after the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion the year before.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good read ... I have finished it yet cause I'm lazy but I'm enjoying the book so far. I like the small chapters as it helps me understand the story line betterPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
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