Recommendation: If you’re after a good overview of the Cold War, this is definitely an excellent choice
Where to read: Holiday??
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.