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At the Abyss

An Insider's History of the Cold War

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Description

“The Cold War . . . was a fight to the death,” notes Thomas C. Reed, “fought with bayonets, napalm, and high-tech weaponry of every sort—save one. It was not fought with nuclear weapons.” With global powers now engaged in cataclysmic encounters, there is no more important time for this essential, epic account of the past half century, the tense years when the world trembled At the Abyss. Written by an author who rose from military officer to administration insider, this is a vivid, unvarnished view of America’s fight against Communism, from the end of WWII to the closing of the Strategic Air Command, a work as full of human interest as history, rich characters as bloody conflict.

Among the unforgettable figures who devised weaponry, dictated policy, or deviously spied and subverted: Whittaker Chambers—the translator whose book, Witness, started the hunt for bigger game: Communists in our government; Lavrenti Beria—the head of the Soviet nuclear weapons program who apparently killed Joseph Stalin; Col. Ed Hall—the leader of America’s advanced missile system, whose own brother was a Soviet spy; Adm. James Stockwell—the prisoner of war and eventual vice presidential candidate who kept his terrible secret from the Vietnamese for eight long years; Nancy Reagan—the “Queen of Hearts,” who was both loving wife and instigator of palace intrigue in her husband’s White House.

From Eisenhower’s decision to beat the Russians at their own game, to the “Missile Gap” of the Kennedy Era, to Reagan’s vow to “lean on the Soviets until they go broke”—all the pivotal events of the period are portrayed in new and stunning detail with information only someone on the front lines and in backrooms could know.

Yet At the Abyss is more than a riveting and comprehensive recounting. It is a cautionary tale for our time, a revelation of how, “those years . . . came to be known as the Cold War, not World War III.”

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 09, 2004 – 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.

Customer Reviews

Ok

It's ok. Glad I read it but there are a few parts that were utterly boring. It's hard to find a really good book about the Cold War.

At the Abyss
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: Mar 09, 2004
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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