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The Cold War: A Military Historyby Robert Cowley
Synopses & Reviews
Even fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, it is still hard to grasp that we no longer live under its immense specter. For nearly half a century, from the end of World War II to the early 1990s, all world events hung in the balance of a simmering dispute between two of the greatest military powers in history. Hundreds of millions of people held their collective breath as the United States and the Soviet Union, two national ideological entities, waged proxy wars to determine spheres of influence–and millions of others perished in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Angola, where this cold war flared hot.
Such a consideration of the Cold War–as a military event with sociopolitical and economic overtones–is the crux of this stellar collection of twenty-six essays compiled and edited by Robert Cowley, the longtime editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. Befitting such a complex and far-ranging period, the volume’s contributing writers cover myriad angles. John Prados, in “The War Scare of 1983,” shows just how close we were to escalating a war of words into a nuclear holocaust. Victor Davis Hanson offers “The Right Man,” his pungent reassessment of the bellicose air-power zealot Curtis LeMay as a man whose words were judged more critically than his actions.
The secret war also gets its due in George Feiffer’s “The Berlin Tunnel,” which details the charismatic C.I.A. operative “Big Bill” Harvey’s effort to tunnel under East Berlin and tap Soviet phone lines–and the Soviets’ equally audacious reaction to the plan; while “The Truth About Overflights,” by R. Cargill Hall, sheds light on some of the Cold War’s best-kept secrets.
The often overlooked human cost of fighting the Cold War finds a clear voice in “MIA” by Marilyn Elkins, the widow of a Navy airman, who details the struggle to learn the truth about her husband, Lt. Frank C. Elkins, whose A-4 Skyhawk disappeared over Vietnam in 1966. In addition there are profiles of the war’s “front lines”–Dien Bien Phu, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs–as well as of prominent military and civil leaders from both sides, including Harry S. Truman, Nikita Khrushchev, Dean Acheson, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Richard M. Nixon, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others.
Encompassing so many perspectives and events, The Cold War succeeds at an impossible task: illuminating and explaining the history of an undeclared shadow war that threatened the very existence of humankind.
From the Hardcover edition.
Essays by twenty-five distinguished historians shed new light on the military aspects of the Cold War, with contributions by Dino Bugioni on plans to invade Cuba during the missile crisis, Jeffrey Norman's description of how POWs in North Vietnam survived their ordeal, and other works by Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough, Caleb Carr, Thomas Fleming, and others. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.
About the Author
Robert Cowley is the founding editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. He has edited three other anthologies–The Great War; No End Save Victory, about World War II; and With My Face to the Enemy, about the Civil War–as well as several volumes in the popular What If? series. He lives in Connecticut.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
I. FIRST SKIRMISHES. The day the Cold War started / James Chace — Cloak-and-dagger in Salzburg / Harris Greene — The great rescue / David Clay Large — The incident at Lang Fang / Eugene B. Sledge — The escape of the amethyst / Simon Winchester — II. POLICE ACTION. The United States, the U.N., and Korea / James Chace and Caleb Carr — Truman fires MacArthur / David McCullough — The man who saved Korea / Thomas Fleming — The first jet war / Dennis E. Showalter — "Murderers of Koje-do!" / Lawrence Malkin — Strategic views: the meaning of Panmunjom / Robert Cowley — III. THE DEEP COLD WAR. The truth about overflights / R. Cargill Hall — The Berlin tunnel / George Fiefer — The invasion of Cuba / Dino A. Brugioni — Twilight zone in the Pentagon / Thomas B. Allen — The right man / Victor Davis Hanson — IV. VIETNAM: THE LONG GOOD-BYE. Calamity on the R.C. 4 / Douglas Porch — Dien Bien Phu / Williamson Murray — The general at ease: an interview with William C. Westmoreland / Laura Palmer — The mystery of Khe Sanh / James Warren — The evacuation of Kham Duc / Ronald H. Spector — MIA / Marilyn Elkins — "That's ocay XX time is on our side" / Geoffrey Norman — The Christmas bombing / Stephen E. Ambrose — V. THE END. The ICBM and the Cold War: technology in the driver's seat / John F. Guilmartin, Jr. — The war scare of 1983 / John Prados — There goes Brussels / Williamson Murray.
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