Best Books on the Cold War and Communism

A Listmania! list by Todd Carlsen
The list author says: "The Cold War began under Truman who used containment, the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, and Berlin Airlift to contain Stalin. Totalitarian control seized Eastern Europe. Eisenhower avoided a hot war despite USSR's brutal crackdowns. USSR built the Berlin Wall. The Cold War approached Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Helsinki Accords allowed dissent. Détente unraveled. Reagan went on offense against the "evil empire.” Reagan said Yalta agreement called for free-determination and elections and asked USSR to honor the agreement. (Read his autobiography and "the Crusader.") The reformer Gorbachev tried perestroika and glasnost reforms to save the ailing Soviet system, and that opened Pandora's Box of freedoms. Reagan encouraged his friend Gorbachev and pushed him further. They ended the Cold War peacefully. When Bush Sr. was president, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Empire unraveled because of Communist failures and that the people, including Solidarity, were allowed to express their self-determination. Perestroika went further than Gorbachev wanted. Pulitzer Prize-winning David Remnick wrote, "Once the regime eased up enough to permit a full-scale examination of the Soviet past, radical change was inevitable. Once the System showed itself for what it was and had been, it was doomed." The roots of the Cold War began during WWII. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill kept delaying a second front. USSR lost 20 million people in war. FDR declared in the Atlantic Charter his post-war vision for self-determination, free trade and security. Churchill tried to preserve colonialism. Churchill and Stalin agreed to the "Percentages Agreement" at a 1944 Moscow conference that gave USSR control of Eastern Europe and British influence in Greece. The Yalta agreement called for self-determination and free elections using Atlantic Charter language."
The Rise and Fall of Communism
1.  The Rise and Fall of Communism by Archie Brown
The list author says:
  "The best book on the rise of communism and its fall. The author, from Oxford, is a premier scholar of the Cold War."
$16.45   Used & New from: $5.96
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

The Cold War: A New History
2.  The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis
The list author says:
  "The best general book on the Cold War. Well-written, authoritative and concise. Gaddis has been a distinguished scholar of the Cold War for decades. Excellent!"
$10.91   Used & New from: $4.35
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)

Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
3.  Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick
The list author says:
  "This book won the Pulitzer Prize. Remnick wrote, "Once the regime eased up enough to permit a full-scale examination of the Soviet past, radical change was inevitable. Once the System showed itself for what it was and had been, it was doomed." Gorbachev’s Perestroika and Glasnost reforms opened Pandora’s Box of freedom and a loss of control. USSR unraveled after a failed coup by Soviet hardliners."
$13.58   Used & New from: $0.01
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War
4.  For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War by Melvyn P. Leffler
The list author says:
  "An outstanding history and synthesis! Leffler is one of the foremost scholars of the Cold War. Here he looks at how the Cold War started, covers the most important moments that propelled the Cold War at various points, and details the fall of USSR."
$18.57   Used & New from: $2.82
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924
5.  A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes
The list author says:
  "This book brilliantly tells the story of the Russian Revolution that destroyed the totalitarian Czar system and tragically replaced it with a communist monster."
$16.56   Used & New from: $6.72
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Vintage)
6.  One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Vintage) by Michael Dobbs
The list author says:
  "The Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK skillfully managed the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came close to nuclear destruction. Also read the superb "The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Krushchev" by Michael Beschloss."
$14.01   Used & New from: $2.71
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism
7.  The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism by Paul Kengor
The list author says:
  "This excellent partial history details Reagan's lifelong crusade against communism and the unraveling of the Soviet Empire. A great read and a reasonably honest account of what actually happened -- actually part of the story."
$13.56   Used & New from: $0.01
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews) | 3 customer discussions

A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (The New Cold War History)
8.  A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (The New Cold War History) by V. M. Zubok
The list author says:
  "An excellent book on the Cold War from beginning to end, with an emphasis on USSR's fole."
$21.83   Used & New from: $11.49
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction
9.  The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction by Robert J. McMahon
The list author says:
  "Another good, brief book on the Cold War. Also consider "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Cold War.""
$8.51   Used & New from: $2.13
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

The Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.)
10.  The Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.) by H.T. Willetts
The list author says:
  "Groundbreaking exposure of the Gulags by Solzhenitsyn, who was a political prisoner and dissident."
$14.90   Used & New from: $2.64
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
11.  Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebestyen
The list author says:
  "This is a great book on the acceleration of the unraveling of the Soviet Empire and communism in 1989."
$13.79   Used & New from: $4.23
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Gulag: A History
12.  Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
The list author says:
  "This book won the Pulitzer Prize. A landmark book on the political prisons in USSR. Stalin killed millions."
$15.13   Used & New from: $4.76
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)

The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times
13.  The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times by Odd Arne Westad
The list author says:
  "Winner of the Bancroft Prize. Brilliantly details the Cold War as it was waged internationally and examines the consequences."
$21.02   Used & New from: $7.21
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library Chronicles)
14.  Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment (Modern Library Chronicles) by Stephen Kotkin
The list author says:
  "This is an outstanding book on the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the demise of communism."
$10.20   Used & New from: $2.38
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another
15.  Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another by Jonathan Fenby
The list author says:
  "Outstanding history and writing! World-changing decisions during World War II are told through great storytelling. The world we live in today was monumentally changed during the diplomacy World War II. What makes this book so excellent is the outstanding writing. It reads like a great story. The seeds of the Cold War were planted during the uneasy alliance."
$23.43   Used & New from: $2.48
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War
16.  Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis
The list author says:
  "A classic on America's foreign policy from WWII through the end of the Cold War. The containment strategy avoided nuclear war while waging a winning long-term strategy. However, there were downsides to this strategy. Highest recommendation."
$14.79   Used & New from: $4.50
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
17.  Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended by Jack Matlock
The list author says:
  "This book by Reagan's top advisor and ambassador to USSR shows that Reagan first pressured USSR but then changed his posture after Gorbachev came to power. They peacefully ended the Cold War. Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize and Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. When asked by a reporter if the USSR was still "the evil empire," Reagan replied, "No. I was talking about another time, another era.""
$13.77   Used & New from: $1.45
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

1984 (Signet Classics)
18.  1984 (Signet Classics) by George Orwell
The list author says:
  ""Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.""
$5.98   Used & New from: $2.85
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,491 customer reviews) | 14 customer discussions

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
19.  Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore
The list author says:
  "An award-winning biography of the Stalin. Trotsky was expected to lead USSR after Lenin died, but Stalin had him killed with an ice pick(!) and his leftist followers killed. Stalin was a ruthless and shrewd dictator."
$15.78   Used & New from: $4.47
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

The Cambridge History of the Cold War 3 Volume Set
20.  The Cambridge History of the Cold War 3 Volume Set by Melvyn P. Leffler
The list author says:
  "This massive and scholarly three-volume set of essays by leading scholars in the field, edited by prize-winning Cold War Scholars, is an ultimate collection of Cold War scholarship."
$493.05   Used & New from: $459.81
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy
21.  The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman
The list author says:
  "This boos won the Pulitzer Prize. It details the weapons of mass destruction that could annihilate the world, and it tells the story of the climactic end of the arms race, especially the fascinating story of Reagan and Gorbachev, and the aftermath of the post-USSR world."
$12.80   Used & New from: $3.75
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

Truman
22.  Truman by David G. McCullough
The list author says:
  "This book won the Pulitzer Prize. FDR made USA a superpower. Then Truman waged the Cold War against Stalin. His Truman Doctrine, NATO, Marshall Plan, and Berlin Airlift protected Western and Southern Europe from USSR."
$13.92   Used & New from: $0.01
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (772 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford Nuclear Age Series)
23.  A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) by Melvyn P. Leffler
The list author says:
  "This book won the Bancroft Prize. It details the Truman administration and the start of the Cold War."
$30.92   Used & New from: $5.34
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Diplomacy (Touchstone Book)
24.  Diplomacy (Touchstone Book) by Henry Kissinger
The list author says:
  "A masterpiece history of international relations, with the 20th-century taking center stage. A Kissinger classic."
$16.79   Used & New from: $0.26
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956
25.  Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 by Anne Applebaum
The list author says:
  "At the time of this writing, this book by a Pulitzer Prize winner was a National Book Award finalist. It tells the story of Soviet control in post-WWII Eastern Europe. It was a big lie with a police state to make people go along with the totalitarian farce."
$22.79   Used & New from: $5.45
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

An American Life
26.  An American Life by Ronald Reagan
The list author says:
  "Must read! In his memoir, Reagan disproves the false claim made by others that "Reagan won the Cold War." Reagan writes of his close friendship with Gorbachev and their teamwork to peacefully end the Cold War."
$12.65   Used & New from: $3.20
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
27.  Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman
The list author says:
  "This book won the Pulitzer Prize. Khrushchev was a crude and unpredictable man, which made for interesting times. His exposing Stalin's crimes and denouncing the cult of Stalin caused a crisis in the communist world."
$14.46   Used & New from: $0.25
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
28.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black
The list author says:
  "Written by a conservative, the Economist called this "a masterpiece." MUST READ. Great reviews from right, like Kissinger and Buckley, and the left, like Bill Clinton. Roosevelt's Atlantic Charter and post-war vision hastened the end of colonialism, reformed capitalism, and laid the framework to win the Cold War."
Used & New from: $0.58
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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The Reagan Files: The Untold Story of Reagan's Top-Secret Efforts to Win the Cold War (Based on Recently Declassified Letters and National Security Council Meeting Minutes)
29.  The Reagan Files: The Untold Story of Reagan's Top-Secret Efforts to Win the Cold War (Based on Recently Declassified Letters and National Security Council Meeting Minutes) by Jason Saltoun-Ebin
The list author says:
  "Outstanding primary source research detailing Reagan and the Reagan administration in the Cold War. It includes the actual meeting minutes, discussions, and directives. Essential."
$15.08
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
30.  The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Jean-Louis Panné
The list author says:
  "This well-researched book by a team of top European scholars delivers the facts. 100 million died because of the foolish ideas of communism."
$53.20   Used & New from: $22.94
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

Mao: The Unknown Story
31.  Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang
The list author says:
  "The best book on Mao and the history of communism in china under his disastrous rule."
$15.22   Used & New from: $0.35
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews) | 7 customer discussions

A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights
32.  A New Deal for the World: America's Vision for Human Rights by Elizabeth Borgwardt
The list author says:
  "President Franklin Roosevelt profoundly changed America's foreign policy during WWII, such as his Four Freedoms, and then his blueprint for a new post-war world and active US policy. FDR laid the foundation to win the Cold War. He hastened the end of colonialism, ended isolationism, and entrenched a vision of freedom and human rights, which was radically different than before."
$24.63   Used & New from: $5.66
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

A World Transformed
33.  A World Transformed by George H.W. Bush
The list author says:
  "President George H.W. presided over the collapse of the Soviet Empire three years into his presidency, and he brought the Cold War to a safe landing. This important book tells part of that story."
$13.92   Used & New from: $0.48
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: (50th Anniversary Edition) (Signet Classics)
34.  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: (50th Anniversary Edition) (Signet Classics) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The list author says:
  "Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote this masterpiece work of fiction describing the horrors of the Soviet political prisons. He and other dissidents played a major role in the unraveling of the Soviet Empire. He later won the Nobel Peace Prize."
$5.65   Used & New from: $0.01
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (294 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

Moscow, December 25, 1991: The Last Day of the Soviet Union
35.  Moscow, December 25, 1991: The Last Day of the Soviet Union by Conor O'Clery
The list author says:
  "After the failed coupe by Soviet hardliners against Gorbachev, the Soviet Union unraveled and a power struggle emerged between Yeltsin and Gorbachev. It ended with the USSR being disbanded by decree of Gorbachev and Yeltsin ruling the new Russia from the Kremlin."
$20.49   Used & New from: $0.01
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
36.  Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons by Paul Vorbeck Lettow
The list author says:
  "It's true. Go to YouTube and watch Reagan's second inaugural address where he says it himself. Since 1945 Reagan deeply believed that nukes were immoral and sought their complete elimination. He believed the greatest threat to the world was nuclear war. He thought a defense shield would make them obsolete and at Iceland proposed eliminating all nukes."
$14.07   Used & New from: $0.01
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

The Red Flag: A History of Communism
37.  The Red Flag: A History of Communism by David Priestland
The list author says:
  "This book is good and a bit tough to read, but Archie Brown's Rise and Fall of Communism is the benchmark, and a few other books here would also be my choice to read."
Used & New from: $1.86
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Lenin: A Biography
38.  Lenin: A Biography by Robert Service
The list author says:
  "This is the best biography of Lenin. It includes the latest research from the briefly open Soviet archives."
$26.28   Used & New from: $7.45
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War
39.  The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War by Jim Mann
The list author says:
  "The story of Reagan and the end of the Cold War. Reagan was more nuanced and skillful than many would have you believe. The real Ronald Reagan gets higher marks than the story neo-cons want some to believe. He helped bring down communism."
$15.30   Used & New from: $1.97
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (Turning Points in History)
40.  The Fall of the Berlin Wall (Turning Points in History) by William F Buckley
The list author says:
  "A great book on the Berlin Wall with brief coverage of the Cold War."
$9.99
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Customer Discussions about products in this list
Discussion Replies Latest Post
Books similar to 1984 1 20 hours ago
big brother's #1 weapon is............................ 0 Feb 15, 2014
Welcome to the 1984 forum 6 Feb 8, 2014
expensive movie 4 Feb 8, 2014
Big Business is Watching You 0 Feb 8, 2014
Holes in the plot?? 1 Dec 21, 2013
Hagiography? 3 Dec 20, 2010
Abridged? 3 Jul 22, 2010
Why is the Kindle version $21.38 when the hardcover is $23.75??? 2 Jul 20, 2009
One Minute to Midnight - Publisher's Weekly editorial review INACCURATE 2 Dec 26, 2008
Other reviews 0 Oct 3, 2006
Other reviews 0 Oct 3, 2006
 
   

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Todd Carlsen
Qualifications: Scholarly History Aficionado
Last updated: 12/31/13
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