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The Cold War

Books on the Cold War

 The Cold War Book Cover
The Cold War was the dominant global conflict of the Twentieth Century.  This volume begins with a discussion of the War’s roots, both deep and recent.  It analyzes the early years of the War, immediately following World War II.  It looks at the major events of the War and considers some of the themes that defined it as a military, economic, and cultural phenomenon.  It closes with an examination of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a detailed timeline of the War.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
    1. Deep Origins
    2. Soviet Fears at the End of World War II
    3. U.S. Fears at the End of World War II
    4. Protecting U.S. Interests
  3. Early Defining Events
  4. Major Events and Battlegrounds
    1. Berlin Blockade
    2. China Goes Communist
    3. The Korean War
    4. The Cuban Missile Crisis
    5. Conflicts in the Middle East
    6. Vietnam
    7. Afghanistan
    8. Central and South America
  5. Major Themes
    1. A Truly World-Wide Conflict
    2. The Last European Civil War
    3. Containment
    4. McCarthyism
    5. Anti-Colonial/Anti-Imperial Complications
    6. Cold War as Economic War
    7. Arms Races
    8. Brutal Communist Repression
    9. America’s Authoritarian Proxies
    10. Detente
  6. Collapse of the Soviet Bloc
  7. Timeline


The Cold War was the dominant conflict of the Twentieth Century.  More than any other event, it defined the roles that virtually all nations played for almost 50 years.  It was a truly world-wide War, a contest between two rival superpowers—the U.S. and the Soviet Union—which for many years held the entire planet hostage to the threat of nuclear annihilation.  By the time it was over, its players had spent the staggering sum of $15 Trillion in one of the most intense, high stakes ideological struggles of the past thousand years. 

The War’s origins can be traced to the reign of Napoleon, if not earlier.  So deeply rooted were the U.S. and Soviet positions that even before the end of World War Itheir respective postures were basically fixed, with only the final outcome of the drama still to be known.  Events during World War II and in its immediate aftermath only served to confirm and harden both sides in their respective positions. 

The major events of the Cold War loom with iconic status over the landscape of the Twentieth Century:  the nuclear arms race; Berlin; China; Korea; Cuba; Vietnam; Afghanistan.  These and a hundred lesser skirmishes were carried out in a swirling global confluence of anti-colonialism, competing economic systems, and massive doses of traditional brutality, intimidation, and force.  The Cold War was both the best and the worst of both the old and the new. 

This book discusses the War’s background and origins, its early defining events, some of its most important conflicts, and some of its major themes.  It tries to avoid both the reflexive cheerleading and the hysterical demonizing that characterized discussion of the War while it was underway.  But it also recognizes the judgment of history:  that democracy and capitalism won while totalitarianism and communism lost.  The world we live in today is defined by that verdict.

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