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Publisher's Summary

It began during World War II, 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.

©2006 John Lewis Gaddis (P)2013 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"Thrilling....An utterly engrossing account of Soviet-U.S. relations from WWII to the collapse of the U.S.S.R....A new, concise narration was Gaddis's aim here, and he succeeds royally." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

WOW

Maybe the most important book I've ever read (listened too that is.) Very complete, relatively unbiased, and gives alot of context. the Cold War encompassed so much, so many different conflicts on so many different continents, but this book makes it plain.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Eunice
  • Harrodsburg, KY, United States
  • 08-04-10

My son recommended this book - He was right!

My eldest son called me while listening to this book on a road trip. He was fascinated by it, and told me to see if Audible had it. The kid has right! This is a fascinating read. The author does a good job of connecting the flow of history from Stalin through Viet Nam through Reagan. Nothing happens in a vacuum. This excellent resource in connecting the dots.
The narration also was excellent. A winner on all fronts!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Bill
  • Kailua Kona, HI, United States
  • 09-12-11

Would it were longer

This is the definitive BRIEF history of the Cold War and well worth the listen. Unfortunately, 8 hours is not long enough for a comprehensive treatment of the era. Would it approached such classics as The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in scope and depth ... the horrors and impact certainly warrant it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not a Chronological History

John Lewis Gaddis in The Cold War approaches the Cold War from a number of different perspectives. Each is covered in one of seven chapters and an Epilogue. The most valuable to me were the last chapter “The Triumph of Hope” in which the Berlin Wall falls and the “Epilogue: The View Back” in which he summarizes what the Cold War meant. Individuals looking for a chronological history will not find it here, but the book is insightful and engrossing nonetheless. There are surprises even for those of old enough to have lived through the entire era. I particularly found the sections concerning Eisenhower’s misleading the public initially about Gary Powers and the U-2 interesting. Gaddis follows this theme of dishonesty through the Bay of Pigs and even Nixon’s fiasco. His explanation for FDR’s New Deal in geo-political context is interesting. Along the way, I felt that Gaddis treated every play (Republican and Democrat) in a balanced manner. This is a very good book and worthy of anyone willing to devote the time to it. The reading of Jay Gregory and Alan Sklar is excellent

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A start for people clueless about the Cold War

This book is a summary of major ideas and events. It is does not delve deep into any specific aspect of the so-called “war”. To say this book covers a lot would be a drastic understatement. A quick summary of the material Dr. John Lewis Gaddis addresses in this might be the following: 50 years of US and soviet relations; the rise of three super powers; the fall of the USSR; the rise and fall of ideas such as détente, M.A.D., and their eventual collapse; the Korean & Vietnam war; the covert wars of the Cold War; the rise and fall of political leaders in the USA, USSR, China, and other countries. Dr. Gaddis covers a lot in a very limited amount of words.

I recommend this book to people who have limited or no understanding of the Cold War. After reading or listening to this, readers will generally understand the conflict and be able to narrow their focus. I know after I finished reading this book I had a much better appreciation for how unstable the US political system could look to those outside of it, the political gains of the Nixon administration, and the comparative progressiveness of Gorbachev to other soviet leaders.

If this book is used as an introduction into Cold War material, readers will be highly satisfied with the material, but if a reader is hoping for a in-depth analysis of any specific aspect of the conflict I feel they will find themselves wanting more.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Wish it was much longer

This is a great history book about the cold war. Whenever you hear that a professor writes a history book the first thing that goes through my mind is, are we going to get a real history of events or will we get a PC, have to apology series of events. I'm happy to say that this falls in the real category. YES, you can have a history of the cold war where America isn't the bad guy - for whatever reason that doesn't seem the be the case with many authors even as they write about people risking their lives to flee the Soviet Union. Anyways this isn't a flag waving history of events either, the author I believe does his best to stay even with the events and the story moves quickly -- in fact too quickly. It's clear the author has a very strong level of knowledge on the issue and I honestly wish this book was at least 5 times longer. Regardless the subject matter that is covered is done extremely well.

I hope that Audible makes many more of Professor Gaddis's writings available.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A Summary of Major Cold War Events

The author says in his preface that this book does not contain any original scholarship and that it is designed for those with no memory and very little knowledge of the Cold War, so I probably shouldn't complain that it is so simple and basic. But I am old enough to have lived through the later years of the Cold War and while I am no historian, I do have an interest in history. There was literally nothing in this book I did not already know -- and on most topics I know far more than was in this short book. It is a brief summary of major Cold War events for beginners, and should appeal to such persons. I do have one big criticism, however, which is that the author seems to regard Ronald Reagan as some sort of genius who single-handedly ended the Cold War, while Gorbachev is dismissed as if he were a simpleton. This is far too simple-minded a view of the end of the Cold War.

The narrator has a nice voice, and did a nice job of holding my interest.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent

I am in my 30's and, like most people my age, lived through the cold war without knowing much about it other than Gorbachev had a funny stain on his head. This book enlightened me on the world that was born out of WWII's cessation and lasted through until the first Bush was elected. I think I gained invaluable insight from listening to this audiobook and have a greater perspective on all that was going on right under my nose as a child. The narration was superb.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very enlightening

There were large parts I already knew, but this connected some of the dots with the why some of those things happened (or at least plausible reasons they happened).

Organization of the work was good as well, clustered around concepts rather than just chronological accounting.

The inability to create logical paragraphs while giving reviews is really a PITA.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 01-31-10

A Captivating Way Of Telling History

I really enjoyed listening to this audio book, in particular the way that the author (and narrator) had a compelling way of telling history and making it fascinating. I'm just over 50 years of age, so when so much of the Cold War and other historical events of the time were going on, I like most young people, had very little interest in the events of the day....especially since so much of it was being shoved down my throat in school. I wish I had audible books back then, I just might have been a straight A student! (<:

3 of 4 people found this review helpful