The Cold War's Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace

Harper. Jul. 2018. 640p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780062367204. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062367228. HIST
Chamberlin (history, Columbia Univ.; The Global Offensive) convincingly shows that the Cold War (1945–90) was neither cold nor solely a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Twenty million people were killed in bloodbaths that placed political ideology and religious fundamentalism above citizens' welfare, as emerging third-world nations sought independence from former colonial empires. The author asserts that in terms of carnage and destruction, the Cold War must be considered along with both World Wars. Chamberlin identifies three waves of Cold War mass conflicts: East Asia (1945–59), Global Communism (1961–79), and Religious Wars (1975–90), and provides vivid descriptions of specific battles from each period in China, Korea, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the greater Middle East. This deeply researched account draws on recently declassified CIA records that will shock those who view the conflict as an exercise in superpower diplomacy.
VERDICT Chamberlin has done for the Cold War era what Fredrik Logevall's Choosing War did for the Vietnam War. Historians and other informed readers will find much to consider in this significant revisionist work.
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