"The Cold War: A New History" by John Lewis Gaddis: An Unbiased Overview of the Cold War

The book “The Cold War: A New History” by John Lewis Gaddis is an overall rundown of the Cold War. The author’s purpose, stated in the preface of writing this book, is to answer questions students may have that surface when talking about the Cold War. The author explains detail by detail the events that led to the Cold War and the constant silent aggression that made the battle last so long. The main question that stood out to me that the author attempts to answer is, “How did we ever make it out of the Cold War alive?”

When telling both sides of the story, it’s important for the author not to have a bias. Gaddis does a good job of trying to present both sides without leaning a certain way because, in reality, both sides played a part in the Cold War, making them both at fault. Gaddis does present the different soviet leaders at the time in a bit of a negative light. Gaddis mentions how Stalin was a “lonely, deluded, and fearful old man” (Gaddis, 2005, p. 104), but none of the presidents in the U.S. were talked about in this kind of light.

He also mentions how Eisenhower invited Khrushchev to visit the U.S., and Khrushchev wanted to visit the iconic Disney but was denied access due to security reasons. In which he got into a shouting match with the mayor of Los Angeles. Telling this story makes Khrushchev look immature and incompetent, which can be seen as biased (Gaddis, 2005, p. 72). Another important topic that can be biased is the discussion of George F. Kennan. Gaddis was close friends with Kennan and wanted to share his side of the story about the policies he tried to advocate throughout the Civil War. He tries to show that Kennan has the best of intentions when advocating these policies. Overall, Gaddis presented both sides of the story without favoring the American side.

Gaddis references many different articles and books to support his evidence. He quotes a lot of different people that were present at the time of the Cold War, such as presidents, senators, and generals, to show what the public was presented with by our leading powers on what was happening at the time of the Cold War. The author also utilizes maps to allow the viewer to visualize how the territories were split and where different troops were stationed, and how the fighting transitioned through the battlefields. For example, he inserted a picture of European territory changes that were going on between 1939-1947 that showed Europe was split between the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria (Gaddis, 2005, p. 13).

The author mentions he wanted his students to be able to read his book and answer questions they may have about the Cold War. He intentionally made it an easy-to-follow book that covers the Cold War clearly and concisely. Writing it this way allowed students to get a better understanding, so anyone could answer questions they may have on the long, confusing history of the Cold War. People who have no prior knowledge of the Cold War can easily read this book and grasp the full understanding of how all of the events played out. Gaddis was thinking of the viewer heavily in this book, making it a very approachable easy to understandable story.

Personally, I enjoyed how approachable the book is. As a viewer, I went in not knowing much about the Cold War, and this book was very easy to follow and fulfilled its purpose of trying to explain the Cold War clearly. Presenting the Soviet’s view allowed me to see the Cold War from a different perspective than what I was originally taught. Every time I ever heard about the Cold War, I was always told it was the Soviet’s fault or the communists’, but in reality, it takes two to tango. I think this is a very good book to get a full rundown of the entire history of the Cold War, including the events that led up to the battle and what caused the end of the drawn-out war. I found it to be very informative, and it provided evidence to back up events that happened throughout the book. I think he achieved his purpose of trying to make the book as clear and precise as possible.

Gaddis wasn’t necessarily trying to push a certain narrative which I think is an essential part of the story he was trying to convey. Not having a certain view or agenda keeps the book as factual and reliable as possible without trying to persuade the audience one way or another. Gaddis was even personal friends with Kennan and still managed to remain unbiased when talking about him. He just simply relayed the story in his book.

The initial question Gaddis presented in the preface of the book was, “How did we ever make it out of the Cold War alive?” this is a question I somewhat know the answer to now. The simple answer is the fall of communism ended the war. When the Soviet Union collapsed, all stress was relieved. Communism made many different promises to offer better lives to people, but in reality, it never lived up to those expectations. After the Berlin wall collapsed and the borders opened, all hope was given back to the people. The iron curtain had finally lifted, and the east and west were no longer divided. So, the long Cold War had finally ended, and the end of mankind wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds anymore.

This book showed a perspective from the Soviet view and the American view to give an introspective look at the reality of what the Cold War actually was. It’s an informative book that aims to educate everyday people on the long, drawn-out battle of the Cold War. Gaddis wrote a book that achieved its purpose of showing both sides and not letting all of the blame fall on the Soviet Union for nuclear warfare and possibly the end of civilization itself. It was an informative book that provided information on the Cold War that many people might not have known.

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\"The Cold War: A New History\" by John Lewis Gaddis: An Unbiased Overview of the Cold War. (2023, Mar 16). Retrieved April 1, 2023 , from

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