This is what would be called a document source history of the Cold War. Cold Warfare author Patrick J. Pacalo researched declassified documents from the CIA, OSS, presidential papers, and records from the National Archives and the National Security Archive. These documents shed light on how the United States conducted the long-running “cold” war against the Soviet Union. The documents, as Pacalo discovered, reveal that the United States would do almost anything in order to prevent the Soviet Union from gaining the upper hand or controlling a country - the Iran-Contra scandal is one example.
Pacalo argues that the Cold War really started after World War I and escalated after World War II. He presents how the CIA came into being and what its main job was and is, followed by descriptions of what the United States under President Eisenhower did in Iran, Guatemala and Hungary to combat Communism. In the first two cases, the U.S. succeeded even at the expense of justice in thwarting Communists from gaining control of those countries. In Hungary, though, the U.S. failed, leading the Hungarians to feel abandoned by the West.
Pacalo outlines the United States’ actions aimed at stopping Castro from spreading Communism in Latin America, including the attempt to overthrow Castro. The Vietnam War was another instance of the Cold War turned hot. Pacalo finishes his book with the 1970s and the Reagan era, which saw the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. He does not include material from the various sources on China or the Korean War because, he says, these conflicts did not involve the Soviet Union to a large extent.
Pacalo provides copious quotes from these declassified documents. His bibliography of books, letters and other sources is extensive, making it a primary bibliographical source on the history of the Cold War that can be used for further extensive research on the conflict. This book belongs in libraries with a Cold War collection; general readers interested in the Cold War would do well to read this book for its important collection of these sources.
Patrick Pacalo has a Ph.D. in Social Sciences. He interned at the U.S. Army War College in 1983. He is a retired captain and served as an intelligence officer in 1990 to 1992 in the reserve 464th Chemical Brigade.