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The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction

Second Edition

Robert J. McMahon

February 2021

ISBN: 9780198859543

200 pages

In Stock

Very Short Introductions

Price: £8.99

Vividly written and based on up-to-date scholarship, this title provides an interpretive overview of the international history of the Cold War.



Vividly written and based on up-to-date scholarship, this title provides an interpretive overview of the international history of the Cold War.

  • Covers the entirety of the Cold War era, highlighting key players such as Stalin, de Gaulle, and Reagan
  • Gives equal attention to the impact of the conflict on the developing world, on the West, and on Asia
  • Examines the Cold War's domestic as well as international dimensions
  • Written by a major American authority on the post-war period
  • Part of the Very Short Introductions series—over ten million copies sold worldwide

New to this edition

  • Accounts for new scholarship on the 1970s, 1980s, and the Vietnam War
  • Offers new analysis based on significant new documents that were unavailable for the first edition

About the Author(s)

Robert J. McMahon, Ralph D. Mershon Professor of History Emeritus, Ohio State University

Robert J. McMahon is the Ralph D. Mershon Professor of History Emeritus at Ohio State University. The author of several books on U.S. foreign relations, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War, he previously taught at the University of Florida and has held visiting professorships at Williams College, the University of Virginia, University College Dublin, and the Free University (Berlin). McMahon served as president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in 2001.

Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of maps
    1:World War II and the destruction of the old order
    2:The origins of the Cold War in Europe, 1945-50
    3:Towards 'Hot War' in Asia, 1945-50
    4:A global Cold War, 1950-8
    5:From confrontation to detente, 1958-68
    6:Cold wars at home
    7:The rise and fall of superpower detente, 1968-79
    8:The final phase, 1980-90
    Further reading


"Review from previous edition McMahon has produced a commanding short narrative of a vital period in recent world history. Clear, concise, and compelling, The Cold War is a superb primer on the subject." - Fredrik Logevall, University of California, Santa Barbara

"A riveting read that brings order to complexity. McMahon is a brilliant guide to the major events of the Cold War and has a gift for clear-headed analysis of the controversies that swirl around it." - Professor Barbara Keys, Durham University

"In concise and compelling prose, Robert McMahon offers critical insights about the truly global dimensions and profound legacies of the Cold War." - Dr. Wen-Qing Ngoei, author of Arc of Containment

"Robert McMahon's The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction is an extraordinary work of both concision and analysis. It incorporates the most up-to-date scholarship in the field, while giving students and excellent overview of this crucial period in international history. The book is truly unique in its short length and clear and concise summary of the main issues of the Cold War, while written with grace and subtlety. A masterful achievement!" - Professor Thomas Schwartz, Vanderbilt University

"Small but impressive" - Soldier Magazine