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The Cold War: A New History

The Cold War: A New History

Written by John Lewis Gaddis

Narrated by Jay Gregory and Alan Sklar


The Cold War: A New History

Written by John Lewis Gaddis

Narrated by Jay Gregory and Alan Sklar

ratings:
4.5/5 (48 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Released:
Dec 12, 2005
ISBN:
9781598873757
Format:
Audiobook

Description

From "the dean of Cold War historians" (New York Times): an important new reckoning with the hostile relationship that defined our age.

It began during the Second World War, when American and Soviet troops converged from east and west. Their meeting point—a small German city—became part of a front line that solidified shortly thereafter into an Iron Curtain. It ended in a climactic square-off between Ronald Reagan's America and Gorbachev's Soviet Union. In between were decades of global confrontation, uncertainty, and fear.

Drawing on new and often startling information from newly opened Soviet, Eastern European, and Chinese archives, this thrilling account explores the strategic dynamics that drove the Cold War, provides illuminating portraits of its major personalities, and offers much fresh insight into its most crucial events. Riveting, revelatory, and wise, it tells a story whose lessons it is vitally necessary to understand as America once more faces an implacable ideological enemy.

Released:
Dec 12, 2005
ISBN:
9781598873757
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History of Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1947 (1972); Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security (1982); The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (1987); We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (1997); The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (2002); and Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (2004).


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Reviews

What people think about The Cold War

4.5
48 ratings / 17 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (1/5)
    Ironic that this was written in the height of post 9/11 fervor for our new "implacable ideological enemy", but fails to mention much about the CIA role in creating it.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Manages to compress 50+ years of complex history into slim volume. Thoughtful. Good overview. Recognizes how itself is product of own time. Interesting reading it while listening to Good Omens which itself was product of Cold War thinking -- themes of detente employed between Good and Evil.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)
    Knap zonder meer door inzicht en synthese. Opvallend belang van de actoren in de jaren 80, wijst op mindere aandacht voor structurele achtergronden. belang Reagan overdreven
  • (3/5)
    Knap zonder meer door inzicht en synthese. Opvallend belang van de actoren in de jaren 80, wijst op mindere aandacht voor structurele achtergronden. belang Reagan overdreven
  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Very ideologically driven vision of the Cold War - at times fun to read but watch out.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Filled in some blanks, the part about Nixon is especially relevant today

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)
    Brilliant short summary of the Cold War. I spent a good chunk of my life fighting the Cold War, and I appreciate this book.
  • (5/5)
    This was a fascinating and accessible history of the Cold War written by a professor as requested by his students. It is written in the style of a very interesting spy/war/political novel -- except it's real! Thanks for a gem of a book!
  • (4/5)
    A genuinely eye-opening history of the Cold War. Gaddis focuses on an analysis of the key personalities, the politics and the social upheavals of the times using extensive contemporary voices. A little too certain of the pivotal role played by Reagan but an ultimately uplifting vision of the success of the Cold War itself in preventing total war.
  • (5/5)
    Deng, Thatcher, John Paul II, Reagan, Welesa, SchabowskiSchabowski? More on him later. Author Gaddis has written an outstanding book for the average reader. He teaches a course on this, and one day a student of his suggested he write a summary of the Cold War for the general reader. After all a person has to be over 60 to have lived through most of it. This book is the result, and Gaddis makes every word count.I've been amused by reviews that says the book is too long, or too short, or it is opinionated. It's just the right length, going into enough detail to tie together all the elements of a 45 year period in which the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) was the operating policy of the USSR and the United States. It is opinionated, no doubt, but it is fascinating to read the author's take on the whys and wherefores of everything that happened.Initially the goal was détente, two major powers beefing themselves up to insure that war between them would be an absurd death sentence. All the time, however, the superpowers were struggling somehow to lessen the dangers of this sort of coexistence. Sadly their efforts were frequently set back by governmental acts of folly. We were making some progress when we decided to invade Vietnam. The Russians were infuriated. Not that they cared a whit about Vietnam. It was just that our engagement in this war set back the negotiating process. Another setback was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.Then some key people came on the scene. John Paul II aroused millions when he visited Poland; Lech Walesa created a groundswell of hope among the Poles. Thatcher came on the scene and declared socialism a failure in Britain, and then Reagan decided that détente wasn't something we could live with for the rest of human life on the planet. Gaddis feels that certain people arriving at the right time helped end the Cold War. Russia's total control of its people was based on promises of a better way of life, and keeping them in fear of outside forces like the U.S. These means of control began to fail.Oh yes, then there is Schabowski, a minion of the East German government who, in late 1989, was told to hold a press conference reading a statement that the government was going to relax somewhat the restrictions on citizens leaving the country. Schabowski hadn't read the document carefully, got on stage, fumbled with his papers, and told the world that from now on East Germans could leave the country whenever they wanted to. And that's when the wall came tumbling down.I did live through this entire period, and was glad to read this excellent memory refresher. I learned new things, and appreciated Mr. Gaddis's take on the governments and people involved in this long deadly battle to achieve a greater peace in the world. I'm not sure I agreed with everything he said, but that's fine. I read books to learn things and to get other people's perspective on what's happened in the history of this troubled world. In my opinion no one can write a history of this subject and give just the "facts."Comment
  • (4/5)
    Great primer on the post-war world. I just cast Frederick Taylor's "Berlin Wall" into the cancer shop bag, but I'm holding on to the Cold War. Pretty soon we'll have forgotten all this ever happened. Why does the Cold War world still feel a more hopeful one than today's? (Discuss.)
  • (4/5)
    As several other LT members have pointed out, this is a very useful, compact, single-volume history of the Cold War, very helpful for putting into context events that happened in our own lifetimes, but whose significance perhaps escaped us at the time. Obviously, in the nature of things, it has to miss a lot out (the Middle East, for example, is treated very sketchily, and there are only brief mentions of India and Pakistan), but in general it presents a very clear, coherent account.This is very much a case of history being written by the winning side. With hindsight it is easy to see what went wrong with Soviet communism and it's difficult to find much sympathy for Mao or stalin, but what is less easy to understand, and Gaddis doesn't really attempt to explain, is why so many people were prepared to live under, defend, and even sacrifice their lives for, communist regimes for so long.
  • (5/5)
    For most people from my generation, the backend of Generation X or the frontend of Generation Y, depending on how you look at it, the Cold War lurks in a foggy part of our brain as something that we hazily remember as having happened during our life time, but we were too young to really understand it. As an elementary school kid in the 80's, I can remember hearing names like Reagan and Gorbachev, and have a vauge recollection of things like SDI, Chernobyl, and the Berlin Wall. Of course, everyone remembers the nukes. It is percisely because of these hazy Gen X/Y memories that John Lewis Gaddis wrote The Cold War. In the foreward Gaddis, a professor of Cold War studies at Yale and author of numerous previous books on the subject, says that he began to realize that many of his students were only four years old when the Berlin Wall came donwn. They needed a concise aerial view of the history that "didn't have so many words." Gaddis has achieved that goal and then some.The Cold War begins with it's roots in the waning weeks of World War II. The alliance of necessity between rival ideologies had reached it's terminus. Gaddis deftly takes the reader through the events that followed as Stalin played the gambler to take what he thought he was owed as reperations for holding off and then driving back the Germans for four years: Eastern Europe. From these opening "shots" Gaddis guides us through the next four decades of the freezes, flashpoints, crises, thaws, detente's, and finally crumblings of the Cold War. From the well known events and conflagrations of the Berlin Airlift, Korea and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Nixon's opening of China to the lesser known like the Brehznev Doctrine, Charter 77, and events in the Middle East, Gaddis brings the drama and it's players to life in vivid fashion. The accounts of smaller nations bending their superpower sponsers to their will, the "tail wagging the dog", by insinuating the threat of their sponser-friendly regeimes being overturned, are fascinating.As it is a high-level view of nearly half a century of tension, no subject is given too deep an investigation, but as a primer on the era, another work would be hard-pressed to displace it from the top. It is not a long book, 275 pages, and the prose moves quickly across the page. Anyone interested in studying this complex and intriguing period in modern history would be wise to start with Gaddis' excellent volume.
  • (4/5)
    This is a great, fairly short book on the Cold War by one of the topic historians in that field. He writes in a way that the reader can easily understand and the writing flows. It's a thoroughly researched book and the historian makes some great conclusions. This book is entitled "a new history" because the author uses some newly declassified/released documents and augments some of his older conclusions. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think anyone who is interested in the topic woudl as well.
  • (3/5)
    Bought at Heathrow for the usual trillion-dollar mark up that books in the UK have. So far, tremendously good. (5.25.07)Finally finished (6.29.07) - interrupted by 6 Harry Potters. Basically a solid overview. It's amazing how little I know about the Cold War. I'm reminded of the Simpsons in which school lets out and as the children are streaming out the door, the teachers interjects 'wait! kids! don't you want to know how world war 2 ended?"
  • (5/5)
    Have you stopped worrying about the Cold War and the threat for the end of Humanity? The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis explains why you have and why you were right to worry. It gives an historical overview of the different phrases of the Cold War from its on set in the late 1940’S to its demise in 1989. It develops important ideas such as in an era of total war and destruction then a major war ceases to have any political relevance. Access to the contemporary records shows time and time again that the political classes I the USA, UK, USSR and China came to similar conclusions when faced with the cultural conflicts of the 60’s , having to be in bed with unnatural allies, etcIt also sets out that in the 20-50s it was not clear whose ideas of the state, politics, human rights etc would win. What saved us from the authoritarian states that 1984 fears is that liberal capitalism was able to deliver greater living standards then the controlled economies. Its food for thought what would have happen if the USSR had been able to become the economic powerhouse that communist china is now. In the 70’s political activities focused on freezing the superpower relationship and the post war settlement as fact of life but in giving a legitimacy to human rights it quicken the demise of communist legitimacy that its economic failures compounded. In the 80’s the smoke and mirrors that kept up the illusion of the USSR superpower finally imploded.The approach reminds me of the story from china in the 1960's when a senior leader of the communist party was asked what he thought of the success and failures of the French revolution. He replied its too early to say! The origin of the book was a student's plea that he could update his massive history of the Cold War of the 50s and 60's so it covered the whole period but with fewer words. He succeeds with a well written, informative and at times jaw dropping account of the incompetence of our rulers!
  • (5/5)
    Excellent overview of the Cold War. I really appreciated how it presents a global view of the Cold War - something I missed out on when I was studying history in college. I also found the perspective offered by his use of formerly classified and otherwise inaccessable documents very useful and helpful in piecing the whole narrative together. I highly recommend this book, even if you do not have that much prior knowledge of this period. And if you do, this book will also be enjoyable because of the author's knowledge of what was happening on the "other side" as well as the greater perspective offered by looking back on the events now that the era is over.