History In Focus logo and homepage link

History in Focus

the guide to historical resources • Issue 10: The Cold War •

The Cold War

A photograph of a naval photographer attached to HMS Excellent poses with his Speed Graphic camera on the deck of a warship in port.

A naval photographer attached to HMS Excellent, the shore based establishment which was home to naval photographers for most of the Cold War period, poses with his Speed Graphic camera on the deck of a warship in port.

Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum (photo reference: HU83434)


This bibliography is a brief selection of books on the Cold War. It is taken from History Online, where you can search for recent books and articles from UK academic publishers. Select a publisher in the box below, or browse down the page.

No javascript: Use the links below to jump to a publisher.


Britain and the Economic Problem of the Cold War: The Political Economy and the Economic Impact of the British Defence Effort, 1945–1955

Till Geiger

Examining aspects of the political economy and economic impact of British defence expenditure in the period of the first Cold War (1945–1955), Britain and the Economic Problem of the Cold War challenges the widespread assumption that the British commitment to fighting the Cold War precipitated the country's relative economic decline in the postwar period.

Published 2004; ISBN 0754602877

Reconstruction and Cold War in Germany. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (1948–1961)

Armin Grünbacher

The story of the reconstruction of Germany, from a defeated and ruined fascist power to a democratic and economically dominant member of the European community, is one of the great stories of the twentieth century. This book explores one of the key institutions that helped generate this German recovery and shape its political landscape, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, known in English as the Reconstruction Loan Corporation (RLC).

Published 2004; ISBN 0754638065

The Greek Civil War: Essays on a Conflict of Exceptionalism and Silences

Philip Carabott and Thanasis D. Sfikas

Half a century after the civil war which tore apart Greek society in the 1940s, the essays in this volume look back to examine the crisis. They bring a new comparative approach to the study of the Greek Civil War and establish the sometimes obscure links between Greek and European historical developments in the 1940s. They also highlight the complexity and interconnections of the social, economic and political cleavages that split Greek society, and provide a comprehensive and subtle understanding of the origins, course and impact of the Greek Civil War in a variety of contexts and levels.

Published 2004; ISBN 0754641317

Back to top

Blackwell Publishing

America's Failing Empire: U.S. Foreign Relations since the Cold War

Warren Cohen

This sharp and authoritative account of American foreign relations analyses the last 15 years of foreign policy in relation to the last 40 years, since the end of the Cold War. In 1989, the United States emerged as victor from the Cold War struggle. But what did victory mean? In the United States, commentators were divided in their views: some feared their nation's eclipse by more successful trading powers or blocs; others were concerned that undoubted military pre-eminence was in effect financed by foreigners. A little over a decade later, these worries seem remote – but others have replaced them. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 gave the US a new and unwelcome sense of vulnerability, while the responses of the Bush administration have created grave misgivings in many parts of the world. This fascinating study gives readers an overview and understanding of the recent history of US foreign relations from the viewpoint of one of the most respected authorities in the field.

Published 2005; ISBN 1405114274

Companion to Post-1945 America

Jean Christophe Agnew and Roy Rosenzweig

A Companion to Post-1945 America is an original collection of 34 essays by key scholars on the history and historiography of the period. As the twenty-first century begins, post-World War II scholarship joins the historical canon with a wealth of new material. The contributors to this volume are the most prominent scholars in their respective fields, and each essay analyses and categorises the historical literature of the post-1945 period over a wide variety of topics. The coverage includes family, the media, ethnicity, labor, social movements, politics and foreign policy. Each essay contains a select bibliography to guide further research, and the volume includes a review section that focuses on eight popular and influential historical works. For students, historians and general readers of modern American history, this book is a milestone that will set the standard for post-World War II American historiography.

Published 2005; ISBN 1405149841

The Cold War Era

Fraser Harbutt

This concise historical narrative by a prize-winning Cold War historian covers the entire Cold War period from the Yalta Conference of 1945 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book analyses the Cold War and the various ways that it impacted American life: how it stimulated the economy, was a primary agent of social cohesion (at least until the Vietnam War), greatly inflated presidential power, and was at all times a formidable cultural and intellectual presence. It shows that the Cold War's influence was sometimes palpable, as during the McCarthy years and the Vietnam 'conflict', and was at other times merely a backdrop, as during the civil rights movement and the loosening of cultural restraints in the 1960s. The book also explores the uneasy co-existence of the era's conservative American political structure and private realm of techno-business volatility and radical popular culture.

For the student or scholar of American foreign relations, as well as general readers, this book is an excellent introductory overview of a crucially important period in American history.

Published 2005; ISBN 1577180518

The Cold War: Essential Readings

Klaus Larres

This collection brings together the most influential and commonly-studied articles on the Cold War. The editors draw on the wealth of international and multinational research on the subject to select contributions covering the origins, evolution and termination of the Cold War from 1945 to 1990. They focus particularly on the United States, former Soviet Union, Britain, Germany and France, but also look at the role of the Cold War in other parts of the world.

A substantial introduction to the volume outlines current debates and issues in Cold War studies. The text comprises four parts – Cold War Origins, First Attempts at Conflict Management, War and Détente, and The End of the Cold War – over eight chapters. Each part is prefaced with a concise headnote, setting the chapters in their historiographical context. This combination of articles and editorial material provides students with easy access to seminal work and an analytical framework with which to approach their studies.

Published 2001; ISBN 0631207058

Back to top

Boydell and Brewer

German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour

Stephen Brockmann

Stephen Brockmann challenges the received wisdom that the immediate postwar period in Germany was intellectually barren, characterised primarily by silence on the major issues of the day; he reveals, in addition to attempts to obfuscate those issues, a German intellectual – and literary – world characterised by an often high level of dialogue and debate.

Published 2004; ISBN 1571132988

Back to top

Cambridge University Press

Congress and the Cold War

Robert David Johnson

The first historical interpretation of the congressional response to the entire Cold War. Using a wide variety of sources, including several manuscript collections opened specifically for this study, the book challenges the popular and scholarly image of a weak Cold War Congress, in which the unbalanced relationship between the legislative and executive branches culminated in the escalation of the US commitment in Vietnam, which in turn paved the way for a congressional resurgence best symbolised by the passage of the War Powers Act in 1973. Instead, understanding the congressional response to the Cold War requires a more flexible conception of the congressional role in foreign policy, focused on three facets of legislative power: the use of spending measures, the internal workings of a Congress increasingly dominated by subcommittees and the ability of individual legislators to affect foreign affairs by changing the way that policy makers and the public considered international questions.

Published 2006; ISBN 0521821339

The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times

Odd Arne Westad

The Cold War shaped the world we live in today – its politics, economics, and military affairs. This book shows how the globalisation of the Cold War during the last century created the foundations for most of the key conflicts we see today, including the War on Terror. It focuses on how the Third World policies of the two twentieth-century superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union – gave rise to resentments and resistance that in the end helped topple one superpower and still seriously challenge the other. Ranging from China to Indonesia, Iran, Ethiopia, Angola, Cuba and Nicaragua, it provides a truly global perspective on the Cold War. And by exploring both the development of interventionist ideologies and the revolutionary movements that confronted interventions, the book links the past with the present in ways that no other major work on the Cold War era has succeeded in doing.

Published 2006; ISBN 0521853648

From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War

Wilson D. Miscamble

On April 12, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt died and Harry Truman took his place in the White House. Historians have been arguing ever since about the implications of this transition for American foreign policy in general and relations with the Soviet Union in particular. Was there essential continuity in policy or did Truman's arrival in the Oval Office prompt a sharp reversal away from the approach of his illustrious predecessor? This study explores this controversial issue and in the process casts important light on the outbreak of the Cold War. From Roosevelt to Truman investigates Truman's foreign policy background and examines the legacy that FDR bequeathed to him. This work reveals that the real departure in American policy came only after the Truman administration had exhausted the legitimate possibilities of the Rooseveltian approach of collaboration with the Soviet Union.

Published 2006: ISBN 521862442

Back to top

Hodder Arnold

The End of the Cold War Era: The Transformation of the Global Security Order

Saki Dockrill

Between 1989 and 1991 the world witnessed a number of dramatic and traumatic changes, most notably, the demise of communism in Europe, the end of the superpower rivalry and the break-up of the Soviet Union. The final stages of the Cold War were impossible to accurately predict, and many of the questions posed by those events remain unanswered today. This book investigates the end of the Cold War in three major areas: Europe, superpower relations and the Third World. Freed from the apocalyptic threat to civilisation posed by the superpower arms race, the common hope was that a post-Cold War world would witness more peace and better government. The reasons why this new world has failed to materialise, particularly after 11 September 2001, can be found in the highly-charged state of international relations both during the Cold War and at its conclusion.

Published 2005; ISBN 0340740329

Back to top

Manchester University Press

Power and the People: a Social History of Central European Politics, 1945–56

This book covers various aspects of the social history of politics on both sides of the Iron Curtain in the period 1945 to 1956.

The individual chapters are organised into four sections dealing with workers, ethnic and linguistic minorities, youth, and women. In order to enhance the comparative character of the volume, the four chapters contained in each section consider the position of these social groups in, respectively, West Germany, East Germany, Austria, and either Czechoslovakia or Hungary. Major themes include the absence of popular revolutions in the aftermath of World War Two, the re-imposition of social control by post-war elites, the attempt to restore pre-war gender relations, and the failure of Communist parties to win popular support.

The chosen time-frame saw most of the decisive developments which set the pattern for the remaining Cold War period and is therefore of key importance for any student of this topic.

Published 2005; ISBN 0719070694

Cold War Women: the International Activities of American Women's Organisations

Helen Laville

After World War II, women across the globe claimed that, to avoid a repetition of the death and devastation of the conflict, they must have a more active role in world affairs. American women shared this belief, asserting that their internationalism was vital to secure a peaceful future. American women's loyalty to their European sisters, however, was quickly replaced by their loyalty to their nation.

Cold War Women examines how the internationalist ambitions of American women's organisations in the years 1945 to 1960 gave way to other concerns. In the emerging Cold War, American women abandoned their relationship with their foreign sisters in favour of solidarity with their national brothers. Far from being advocates of internationalism, American women had become agents for Americanism. Confronting a propaganda campaign from Soviet-backed women's organisations, American women tried to export a vision of the American way of life and of women's proper place within it. They were not alone. In the mission to export their organisations as a model for women across the globe, American women were supported by their government, be it through advice and direction or through the financial backing of the CIA.

Published 2002; ISBN 0719058562

Back to top

Oxford University Press

OUP are offering History in Focus readers a discount on all the following titles and more. For details, see OUP's special offer page.

From World War to Cold War: Churchill, Roosevelt, and the International History of the 1940s

David Reynolds

The 1940s was probably the most dramatic and decisive decade of the twentieth century. This volume explores the Second World War and the origins of the Cold War from the vantage point of two of the great powers of that era, Britain and the USA, and of their wartime leaders, Churchill and Roosevelt. It also looks at their chequered relations with Stalin and at how the Grand Alliance crumbled into an undesired Cold War.

But this is not simply a story of top-level diplomacy. David Reynolds explores the social and cultural implications of the wartime Anglo-American alliance, particularly the impact of nearly three million GIs on British life, and reflects more generally on the importance of cultural issues in the study of international history. This book persistently challenges popular stereotypes – for instance on Churchill in 1940 or his Iron Curtain speech. It probes cliches such as 'the special relationship' and even 'the Second World War'. And it offers new views of the familiar, such as the Fall of France in 1940 or Franklin Roosevelt as 'the wheelchair president'. Incisive and readable, written by a leading international historian, these essays encourage us to rethink our understanding of this momentous period in world history.

Published 2006; ISBN 0119284113

The Dancer Defects. The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War

David Caute

The cultural Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West was without precedent. At the outset of this original and wide-ranging historical survey, David Caute establishes the nature of the extraordinary cultural competition set up post-1945 between Moscow, New York, London, and Paris, with the most intimate frontier war staged in the city of Berlin. Using sources in four languages, the author of The Fellow-Travellers and The Great Fear explores the cultural Cold War as it rapidly penetrated theatre, film, classical music, popular music, ballet, painting and sculpture, as well as propaganda by exhibition.

Published 2005; ISBN 0199278830

The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts

Edited by Jussi M. Hanhimäki and Odd Arne Westad

The Cold War contains a selection of official and unofficial documents which provide a truly multi-faceted account of the entire Cold War era. This volume presents the different kinds of materials necessary to understand what the Cold War was about, how it was fought, and the ways in which it affected the lives of people around the globe.

By depicting the experiences of East Berlin housewives and South African students, as well as those of political leaders from Europe and the Third World, The Cold War emphasises the variety of ways in which the Cold War conflict was experienced. The significance of these differences is essential to understanding the Cold War: it demonstrates how the causes of the clash may have looked very different in Santiago from the way they looked in Seoul, New York, Moscow or Beijing.

The book examines the entirety of the Cold War era, presenting documents from the end of World War II right up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A final selection of source material goes on to illustrate the impact of the Cold War to the present day. Again, the emphasis is global: there are documents on the aftermath of the Cold War in Africa and Europe, as well as on the links between the Cold War and the dramatic events of 11 September 2001.

Published 2004; ISBN 0199272808

Back to top


Palgrave Advances in Cold War History

Edited by Saki Dockrill and Geraint Hughes

Palgrave Advances in Cold War History is a multidisciplinary account of the Cold War, examining ten key concepts that underpinned the period, while drawing on the work of established scholars. The concepts discussed include the relevant ideology, culture, strategy, the international system, economics and trade, and science and technology. This book successfully combines knowledge of the Cold War with key intellectual trends developed over recent years. It will not only inform readers about the current state of the discipline, but also enhance students' abilities to further their own research and study into the area. Scholarly interpretations of each concept and subject allow readers to follow the wider international and interdisciplinary dimensions of the history of the Cold War to view it as more than just a confrontation between superpowers.

Published 2006; ISBN 1403934460

The Failure of American and British Propaganda in the Arab Middle East, 1945–1957: Unconquerable Minds

James Vaughan

Using recently declassified sources, James Vaughan provides the first detailed analysis of British and American propaganda, which targeted the countries of the Middle East during the years of increasing international tension and regional instability that immediately followed the end of the Second World War. Considering British and American propaganda within the framework of the Cold War crusade against Communism and the Soviet Union, and the developing confrontations between Arab nationalism and the West, the book investigates the central questions of Anglo-American partnership and rivalry in the period when primary responsibility for 'policing' the Middle East passed from one to the other.

Published 2005; ISBN 1403947147

The Macmillan-Eisenhower Correspondence, 1957–69

Edited by E. Bruce Geelhoed and Anthony O. Edmonds

The Macmillan-Eisenhower Correspondence provides, for the first time, an edition of the correspondence between Harold Macmillan and Dwight D. Eisenhower during their tenures as national leaders in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The book brings together more than 400 letters, cables, transcripts of telephone conversations and other messages sent by Macmillan and Eisenhower to each other. Macmillan and Eisenhower formed the most important diplomatic partnership of their period and this book provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the approach taken by the two leaders to the problems of the Cold War.

The collection shows how Macmillan and Eisenhower agreed and disagreed on the fundamental political issues of the day, including the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, great-power rivalry in the Middle East, and the Berlin crisis. In their correspondence, Macmillan and Eisenhower also revealed their estimations of other world leaders, including Nikita Khrushchev, Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer. The book illustrates how they managed to keep the peace, in part, by preserving and strengthening the special relationship between Britain and the United States.

Published 2004; ISBN 1403912939

A Concise History of the World since 1945: States and Peoples

W. M. Spellman

W. M. Spellman explores the past half-century, focusing on key topics such as human migration, science and technology, the environment, international business, religion and politics, and the break-up of Europe's overseas empires. Two central points of debate are examined: the struggle between centralised socialism and free-market capitalism; and the interaction between the forces of cultural fragmentation and the competing integrative forces of 'globalisation' or world culture.

The socialist paradigm was discredited with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, thereby ending the East-West Cold War conflict; but the second point of tension intensified during the final decade of the century and continues today. Nationalism, as defined by language, culture, and tradition, has frustrated efforts to transcend differences, and in some cases has led to bloody conflicts, while the forces of globalisation erode the distinctiveness of the nation state. At the heart of recent debates over the primacy of market forces and economic globalisation are two troublesome issues, both addressed in this book: the question of global equity, or the ever-expanding gulf between the developed 'North' and the developing 'South', and the environmental impact of development on the planet's delicate ecosystems.

Authoritative and well-written, this is an ideal introductory guide for anyone with an interest in world history since the end of the Second World War, and the issues and challenges facing the globe today.

Published 2006; ISBN 1403917876

Back to top

Yale University Press

The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker

Mary Fulbrook

What was life really like for East Germans, effectively imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain? The headline stories of Cold War spies and surveillance by the secret police, of political repression and corruption, do not tell the whole story. After the unification of Germany in 1990 many East Germans remembered their lives as interesting, varied and full of educational, career and leisure opportunities: in many ways 'perfectly ordinary lives'.

Using the rich resources of the newly-opened GDR archives, Mary Fulbrook investigates these conflicting narratives. She explores the transformation of East German society from the ruins of Hitler's Third Reich to a modernising industrial state. She examines changing conceptions of normality within an authoritarian political system, and provides extraordinary insights into the ways in which individuals perceived their rights and actively sought to shape their own lives.

Replacing the simplistic black-and-white concept of 'totalitarianism' by the notion of a 'participatory dictatorship', this book seeks to reinstate the East German people as actors in their own history.

Published 2005;ISBN 0300108842

Cold War Ecology: Forests, Farms, and People in the East German Landscape, 1945–1989

Arvid Nelson

East Germany, its economy and its society were in decline long before the country's political collapse in the late 1980s. The clues were there in the natural landscape, Arvid Nelson argues in this groundbreaking book, but policy analysts were blind to them. Had they noted the record of the leadership's values and goals manifest in the landscape, they wouldn't have hailed East Germany as a Marxist-Leninist success story. Nelson sets East German history within the context of the landscape history of two centuries to underscore how forest and ecosystem change offered a reliable barometer to the health and stability of the political system that governed them.

Cold War Ecology records how East German leaders' indifference to human rights and their disregard for the landscape affected the rural economy, forests and population. This lesson from history suggests new ways of thinking about the health of ecosystems and landscapes, Nelson shows, and he proposes assessing the stability of modern political systems based on the environment's system qualities rather than on political leaders' goals and beliefs.

Published 2006; ISBN 0300106602

Deceiving the Deceivers: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess

S. J. Hamrick

Among the more sensational espionage cases of the Cold War were those of Moscow's three British spies – Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess. In this riveting book, S. J. Hamrick draws on documentary evidence concealed for almost half a century in reconstructing the complex series of 1947–1951 events that led British intelligence to identify all three as Soviet agents.

Basing his argument primarily on the Venona archive of broken Soviet codes released in 1995–1996 as well as on complementary Moscow and London sources, Hamrick refutes the myth of MI5's identification of Maclean as a Soviet agent in the spring of 1951. British intelligence knew far earlier that Maclean was Moscow's agent and concealed that knowledge in a 1949–1951 counterespionage operation that deceived Philby and Burgess.

Hamrick also introduces compelling evidence of a 1949–1950 British disinformation initiative using Philby to mislead Moscow on Anglo-American retaliatory military capability in the event of Soviet aggression in Western Europe.

Engagingly written and impressively documented, Deceiving the Deceivers breaks new ground in reinterpreting the final espionage years of three infamous spies and in clarifying fifty years of conjecture, confusion and error in Anglo-American intelligence history.

Published 2005; ISBN 0300104162

Back to top