Understanding the Cold War: A Bibliography
I recommend that readers begin with the essay by Murray Rothbard listed here. As Rothbard often stressed, one cannot infer a nation’s foreign policy from the nature of its domestic regime. Communist totalitarianism did not necessitate an aggressive foreign policy; and in the post-World War II period, Rothbard contended, Russian foreign policy was largely defensive in character. The main Communist danger to America was internal rather than external.
Alperovitz, Gar. The Decision to the Use the Atomic Bomb. Argues that the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan was intended as an anti-Russian move.
Blackett, P. M. S. Fear, War, and the Bomb. Contends that America sought to use nuclear policy to secure dominance over Russia.
Chomsky, Noam. American Power and the New Mandarins. Criticizes American intellectuals for their role in promoting a Cold War ideology.
Chomsky, Noam. At War With Asia. Emphasizes the destructive effects of American policy in this region.
Cumings, Bruce. The Korean War: A History. Challenges exclusive North Korean responsibility for the Korean War.
Doenecke, Justus. Not to the Swift: the Old Isolationists in the Cold War Era. Good analysis of the reactions of the opponents of American intervention in World War II to the Cold War.
Du Berrier, Hilaire. Background to Betrayal: the Tragedy of Vietnam. Shows how American leftists mounted a pressure-campaign in favor of American support for Ngo Dien Diem, with dire consequences.
Ekirch, Arthur. The Civilian and the Military. Criticizes American policy during the Korean War.
Fein, Bruce. American Empire Before the Fall. Detailed criticism of America’s longstanding expansionist policies.
Fleming, Denna Frank, The Cold War and Its Origins, 1917-1960. A massive work that stresses American responsibility for the Cold War. Valuable especially for its account of the Truman Doctrine.
Garret, Garet. The People’s Pottage. Shows how the drive for empire has destroyed America’s traditions of liberty. Only the form of the republic remains. Garrett draws a parallel with the fall of the Roman Republic.
Higgs, Robert. Depression, War, and Cold War. Shows the enormous economic costs of the Cold War.
Kolko, Gabriel and Joyce Kolko. The Limits of Power: the World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954. Argues that the dominant aim of American policy during the early Cold War years was the construction of a world economic order under American hegemony.
La Feber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2006. Shows the domestic considerations that influenced American Cold War policy.
Layne, Christopher. The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present. American foreign policy since 1940 has been consistently based on an attempt to secure American global dominance.
Leffler, Melvyn. A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War. Shows that America was vastly superior in power to Russia in the post-World War II period. America successfully sought predominant economic and political influence in Western Europe.
Leffler, Melvyn. The Specter of Communism: The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1917-1953. Stalin’s post World War II policy was cautious and defensive, in contrast with the American quest for global hegemony.
Logevall, Fredrik. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire: The Making of America’s Vietnam. Shows how America’s Vietnam policy stems from earlier American policy toward Indochina during the 1940s and 50s.
Lukacs, John. A New History of the Cold War. Argues that Russian foreign policy was more influenced by nationalism than by Communist ideology.
McMahan, Jeffrey. Reagan and the World: Imperial Foreign Policy in the New Cold War. A careful analysis of United States policy in Latin America. The author later became a distinguished moral philosopher.
Mills, C. Wright. The Causes of World War III. Strong attack on the “crackpot realism” of American policy.
Mills, C. Wright. The Power Elite. Argues that American policy is run in the interests of an alliance of powerful financial and military groups.
Paterson, Thomas G., ed. Cold War Critics: Alternatives to American Foreign Policy in the Truman Years. Contains essays on leading critics of American policy, including Walter Lippmann, who shifted from his World War II interventionism.
Quigley, John. The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II. American’s numerous military interventions since World War II have been based on lies and violations of international law.
Raico, Ralph. Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal. Contains a devastating essay on Harry Truman’s Cold War policy.
Rothbard, Murray N. “Harry Elmer Barnes as Revisionist of the Cold War” in Harry Elmer Barnes, Learned Crusader, ed. Arthur Goddard [ See my “Murray Rothbard and the Cold War” for further listings and discussion.] A detailed account of the views of Barnes, a leading revisionist historian, on the Cold War. This article is the best account of Rothbard’s own position.
Shoup, Laurence H. and William Minter. Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and American Foreign Policy. America aimed for world dominance even before the ostensible beginning of the Cold War. The Council on Foreign Relations played an important role in policy formation.
Smoot, Dan. The Invisible Government. Shows the influence of the Council on Foreign Relations in promoting an interventionist American foreign policy.
Stone, I.F. The Hidden History of the Korean War. Stresses the aggressive policies of the Syngman Rhee regime and the American government at the onset of the Korean War.
Williams, William Appleman. The Tragedy of American Diplomacy. American Cold War policy must be seen in the context of a longstanding American search for economic empire. Empire was a substitute for the ending of the frontier.
Wills, Gary. Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. The advent of nuclear weapons has resulted in a vast growth in presidential power.
Wilson, Edmund. The Cold War and the Income Tax: A Protest. A leading literary critic challenges the use of fear by the American government to control the public. Cold War propaganda scares people into paying their income tax.