The Cold War

THE COLD WAR….Mike Tomasky’s regular guy cred is now solidly in tatters after demanding that we all pass his sniffy history and politics test if we ever want to read his magazine again. He has officially become one of those dreaded coastal liberal elites, looking down his nose at the beer swilling masses. No red state victories for you, Mike!

Still, in the spirit of expanding knowledge among the politically active, here’s a book recommendation. Based on Nick Thompson’s review in the current issue of the Monthly I went out the other day and bought John Lewis Gaddis’s The Cold War, a brief and unusually lucid history of, um, the Cold War.

It’s terrific. The whole book clocks in at a svelte 266 pages, and it’s that rarest of things: a readable and accessible primer for readers who are new to the subject, but still an illuminating and valuable review for those who have already read deeply in the history of the post-WWII era. There are plenty of judgments embedded between the covers of this book, but they’re all backed by Gaddis’s unparalleled scholarship and his careful and lively language. Agree or disagree, there’s nothing shallow in this book despite its brevity.

Highly recommended. It’s a sterling example of the value a world class scholar brings to the table when he writes for a popular audience, not down to it.

POSTSCRIPT: And since there are always a few people who don’t get the joke, I’m just kidding about Tomasky.