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Fifty-Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War Paperback – March 23, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In one of the first comprehensive retellings of the cold war, Norman Friedman offers a broad survey of events from the end of the Second World War to the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He discusses the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam War, and so on, not as discrete incidents--as many other books have done--but as interconnected confrontations in a long struggle that had to be fought. The Fifty-Year War is mostly a chronological history, with a special emphasis on cold-war weapons and technology. The bulk of the book focuses on the 1950s and 1960s; the 1980s receive only cursory attention, but they are in some sense the most dramatic, the moments when the cold war would turn suddenly hot. Still, Friedman credits Ronald Reagan with being the right man at the right time to ensure the Soviet Union's defeat. Indeed, the author believes the Communists were plainly beaten: "The West won the cold war. The Soviets did not merely lose interest in the competition. They lost the war, and they paid the usual price of defeat." This is a sound overview of a titanic struggle, especially its early period. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'To read a comprehensive history of the technical, military and political aspects of the Cold War, based on documents from the two super powers, written by a scholar who is free of bias, is something I never thought I would be able to do. But in The Fifty-Year War I can... For the men and women who are going to lead the world in the first generation of the twenty-first century, this account of how the Cold War was fought and won is indispensable. For those of us who lived through it... Friedman's account is enthralling. Having spent much of my life reading about, studying, worrying about, participating in the Cold War, I thought there was nothing new for me to learn about it. Boy was I wrong. Read The Fifty-Year War and see why. - Stephen Ambrose"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (March 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591142873
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591142874
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Overall, the work is very thorough.
Amazon Customer
Due to the great level of detail, bring patience if you you're new to Cold War history, as I was.
Matt
I've read quite a few Cold-War books, and this is the best of the lot.
The m

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bill French on May 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
this took me,a 14 year old inside the cold war iself. it not only explains the events,strategies and so on but it takes you step by step through the cold war and really gives you an understanding of "why" this happend and why this strategy, a must. this book should not be looked upon lower due to my words as a fouteen yera old.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an impressive foray into a field of study that probably won't come into its own for another ten years. Through superb use of primary sources, Friedman provides an excellent narrative of fifty years of remarkably complex history. Yes, there are gaps, but that is to be expected only ten years on. Overall, the work is very thorough.
In particular, Friedman does a superb job of removing some of the mythology associated with the Cold War. For example, we come to recognize that Eisenhower, behind his benign facade, was an iron-willed president who kept tight reins on the military and foreign policy. In addition, the most cherished of baby-boomer myths, JFK's presidency, is revealed for the farce it really was. And finally, we see the real Gorbachev: a pragmatic technocrat whose hands were tied.
All in all this is an excellent work of history. I would have given it five stars, but the editing is truly appalling, I've never seen so many typos in a major hardcover release.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matt on November 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book does a good job of laying out all the foreign policy, strategic, and military moves, as well as providing context -- although I sometimes found the level of detail to be overwhelming. Some parts read like a political-psychological thriller (who thought what about whom, whether their premises were correct, and how they acted on those premises); other parts resemble a technical manual for various weapons. It will probably be interesting to both political junkies as well as military buffs. Due to the great level of detail, bring patience if you you're new to Cold War history, as I was.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Dougherty on May 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this study of the Cold War, Norman Friedman combines a unique perspective of history, politics, and technology to examine the actions and reactions on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Drawing on many new sources that were previously unavailable, Friedman portrays the dilemma of two opposing political ideologies armed with weapons of destruction, each distrustful and unsure of the other's intentions. Many decisions are now understood to have been made based on erroneous assumptions about capabilities, behaviors, and reactions. Friedman's strength is his mastery of the details of weapon system development, and he skillfully interweaves the policies, politics, and personalities from 1945 onward with the rapid advances in technology that rapidly changed the ideas around waging conflicts. The political and social challenges for both sides in such regional confrontations as Germany, the Mid East, Vietnam, and Cuba are examined throughout the book. Regional wars in the Middle East, Vietnam, and elsewhere allow both sides to assess weaponry and tactics.

Taking a chronological approach, he begins with events in the Soviet Union prior to World War II. The harsh realities of Stalin's terror were largely unappreciated outside of Russia, and during WWII, it became important for the US administration to portray Stalin and the Soviet Union as allies, and much more similar to the US than to the Fascist regimes. Stalin's postwar seizure of Eastern Europe was viewed by the US public as a bitter betrayal, and fueled the rapid rise of the Soviets to enemy status. The advent of the atomic bomb offered the US a way to counter the massive Red Army, as atomic weapons were viewed as "cheap", leading to wholesale destruction.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Pryor on April 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book has many strong points. Firstly, Friedman's analysis of the Cold War's military strategy is first rate. His synthesis of military technology and its relationship to strategy is incredible. This should not be surprising, as Friedman is a notable military analst. His critique of McNamara and the Vietnam War is very clear and well done. However, Friedman's coverage of political events is somewhat journalistic. The author seems to have drawn an imaginary line between the West (the good guys) and communism (the proverbial black hats). At some points, the book falls into a simplistic description of this division that blinds itself to considerable criticism of "the good guys." For example, if the U.S. represents freedom, is it not a contradiction that it also covertly influenced postwar Italian elections? Coverage of the Reagan years displays similar problems. Despite these problems, I happen to agree with the substance of Friedman's history. It could, however, have been more balanced.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By The m on January 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've read quite a few Cold-War books, and this is the best of the lot.
Friedman gives much more analysis and detail than most of the others go into. Notably lacking in other texts, but making up the first several chapters of this one, Friedman discusses and dissects the Stalinist society of pre- to post-WW2; this is an important foundation for understanding the Soviets, and the other books (mostly liberal-apoligist) can't bear to admit the evils perpetuated in Stalin's name.
As a second example, Friedman also covers quite well the horrible, but often glossed-over, mistakes of the Kennedy-Johnson-McNamara years, especially the fallacies of Johnson's Vietnam policy.
This book covers, in both depth and breadth, more than the others, and is not afraid to say what needs to be said.
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