AT THE ABYSS: An Insider's History of the Cold War

Thomas Reed, Author, George Bush, Introduction by . Presidio $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-89141-821-4

This informative if sometimes partisan account of the author's career in public life focuses on the Cold War's nuclear confrontation. Reed worked as an air force officer with early computers, as a consultant to the Livermore Laboratory's production of thermonuclear weapons and eventually as Ronald Reagan's secretary of the air force. He hammers at the themes of the evils of communism, the stark horror of nuclear war and, surprisingly, the conscientious work of his Soviet counterparts whose nightmarish memories of WWII helped them to keep their weapons safe and their world intact. The author spent a good deal of time in Republican politics, but is not uncritical of the men (and women; see his sharp-eyed portrait of Nancy Reagan) with whom he was associated. He reserves his highest respect for the physicists (including Edward Teller) and the uniformed personnel on both sides who devoted and sometimes lost their lives to an effort to keep a fragile peace. The writing is sometimes discursive if seldom dull, and some areas have already been adequately covered by others. But the book deserves quite high marks for how much it pulls together, as well as offering a viewpoint on the Cold War not nearly sufficiently well-represented in the public literature: that neither the U.S. nor Soviet sciences were dominated by stereotypical, bomb-happy maniacs. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/09/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-0-307-41462-5
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-89141-837-5
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