The Great Cold War

The Great Cold War : A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors

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The Great Cold War is arguably the most fascinating account yet written about the Cold War - and a timely enunciation of the lessons we need to learn from the Cold War years if we are to be successful in tackling the potential confrontations of the 21st century. This is a riveting expose of modern history for the general reader, a "must read" for policy-makers, and an eye-opening overview for scholars and students. No other book conveys so vividly how each side interpreted the other's intentions, and what shaped their actions. In a richly informed and perceptive "insider's account", former British diplomat Gordon Barrass shows that while there were times when each side did understand the other's intentions, there were also times when they were wildly wrong - leading to the chilling revelation that the situation was far more serious than most people knew at the time - or imagine now. In looking back over that half-century of confrontation, Barrass poses three big questions: Why did the Cold War start? Why did it last so long? And why did it end the way it did? To answer them, he traveled to Washington, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, and Moscow to interview nearly 100 people, including top policymakers, strategists, military commanders, and key figures in the world of intelligence. Their narratives reveal what was going on behind the scenes, providing valuable insights into the mixture of insecurity, ignorance, and ambition that drove the rivalry between the two sides. Barrass concludes that bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end was a far greater challenge than just "being tough with the Soviets." In the end it depended on the Americans' "getting inside the mind" of the Soviets to gain the leverage needed to achieve their goal - and intelligence played a key role in that process.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 162.56 x 231.14 x 38.1mm | 816.46g
  • Stanford University Press
  • Palo Alto, United States
  • English
  • 4 figures, 28 illustrations, 6 maps
  • 0804760640
  • 9780804760645
  • 217,422

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"Aremarkable book that deserves to remain for many years one of the best and most readable historical interpretations of the Cold War." - Bryan Cartledge, International Affairs "A remarkably comprehensive portrait of the entire Cold War - combining impressive detail with a continuing high-level overview. Buttressed by an extended examination of de-classified diplomatic and intelligence reports - and by interviews with such legendary figures as Markus Wolf - the study provides new penetrating insights into that long struggle. The detachment of a British observer who could avoid identifying with either of the superpowers is refreshing. A splendid achievement. Mr. Barrass is to be congratulated." - James Schlesinger, U.S. Secretary of Defense under both Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, former Director of Central Intelligence under President Richard Nixon, and U.S. Energy Secretary under President Jimmy Carter "Immensely timely. The lessons Barrass draws from the Cold War years can help us greatly in tackling the confrontations of the 21st century. It is a 'must read' for policy makers." - Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush "Gordon Barras has managed to guide the reader through an intricate and dimly lit web of historical events that shaped the course of the 20th century. His route map is much more precise and illuminating than offered by those who tried before him to explain how the Cold War was ticking and how it was finally disarmed without an explosion." - Alexander Bessmertnykh, the last Soviet Foreign Minister "Gordon Barrass has written a fascinating retrospective of the period we call the 'Cold War'. Through a great number of interviews with players and planners of both sides he shed light upon the complicated interaction, the visions and misunderstandings of that great confrontation between east and west and on the moral burden of the nuclear dimension of the conflict. But his book is not only fine history, it is full of lessons for today." - General Hans-Henning von Sandrart, Commander of NATO's Central Front, 1987-1991 "This book is a major contribution to the history of the Cold War - and Gordon Barrass is uniquely qualified to write it. He has a deep understanding of both sides and the issues involved. His access to important figures, in the East and the West, has allowed him to test his perceptions of the Cold War, guaranteeing that this book will remain a key reference until the end of the century." - Oleg Gordievsky, Former Head of the KGB in London

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About Gordon S. Barrass

Gordon S. Barrass was Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office in London and a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Cabinet during the last years of the Cold War. He is a member of the Board of the Cold War Studies Centre at the London School of Economics.

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