The Cold War

Recommendation: If you’re after a good overview of the Cold War, this is definitely an excellent choice

Where to read: Holiday??

Read with: Show your Cold War allegiance – vodka or bourbon

In brief: In an ideal world, this would be the second or third piece of introductory material you get on the Cold War. Read before watching Chernobyl.


This is a good general thematic introduction to the Cold War. I wouldn’t give it to someone with little-to-no prior knowledge of the subject (the chronology is too loose for that). It’s a book I’d probably suggest picking up if you’re familiar with the broad structure of events and you either want a refresh or a slightly deeper general understanding.

Also, be warned that this is in no way a critical history – Regan and Thatcher aren’t exactly lionised but it’s fairly clear where Gaddis’ sympathies lie.

Unsurprisingly, for anyone familiar with the general tenor of these reviews, I’d have preferred a little more in the way of detail. That said, if one is picking up a 350-page history of a fifty-ish year period, one has ample forewarning of the lack of depth. This is definitely on me is my point.

Other reviews can be found below:

And a fun online lecture here:

And an interesting (and quite old) article in The Atlantic here.

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