The Cold War's Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace

The Cold War's Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace

by Paul Thomas Chamberlin


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A brilliant young historian offers a vital, comprehensive international military history of the Cold War in which he views the decade-long superpower struggles as one of the three great conflicts of the twentieth century alongside the two World Wars, and reveals how bloody the "Long Peace" actually was.

In this sweeping, deeply researched book, Paul Thomas Chamberlin boldly argues that the Cold War, long viewed as a mostly peaceful, if tense, diplomatic standoff between democracy and communism, was actually a part of a vast, deadly conflict that killed millions on battlegrounds across the postcolonial world. For half a century, as an uneasy peace hung over Europe, ferocious proxy wars raged in the Cold War’s killing fields, resulting in more than fourteen million dead—victims who remain largely forgotten and all but lost to history.

A superb work of scholarship illustrated with four maps, The Cold War’s Killing Fields is the first global military history of this superpower conflict and the first full accounting of its devastating impact. More than previous armed conflicts, the wars of the post-1945 era ravaged civilians across vast stretches of territory, from Korea and Vietnam to Bangladesh and Afghanistan to Iraq and Lebanon. Chamberlin provides an understanding of this sweeping history from the ground up and offers a moving portrait of human suffering, capturing the voices of those who experienced the brutal warfare.

Chamberlin reframes this era in global history and explores in detail the numerous battles fought to prevent nuclear war, bolster the strategic hegemony of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and determine the fate of societies throughout the Third World.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062367204
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 794,221
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Paul Chamberlin is Associate Professor of History at Columbia University. He taught for six years at the University of Kentucky. He received his PhD from The Ohio State University after studying at the American University of Cairo and the University of Damascus and has held fellowships at Yale University and Williams College. His dissertation won the 2010 Oxford University Press prize for the best dissertation in international history. His first book, The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order is an international history of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Geography of Cold War-Era Violence 1

1 The Iron Curtain Descends, 1945-1947 21

Part I The East Asian Offensive and the Rise of Third World Communism, 1945-1954 47

2 The Cold War Comes to China, 1945-1946 54

3 The Cold War's First Battlefield, 1946-1949 74

4 Intervening in Korea, 1945-1950 104

5 Rehearsing for World War III, 1950-1954 131

6 French Indochina and the Death of Colonialism, 1945-1954 158

Part II The Indo-Asian Bloodbaths and the Fall of Third World Communism, 1964-1979 175

7 Making a Quagmire in Vietnam, 1961-1965 183

8 The Massacre of the Indonesian PKI, 1965 210

9 The Tet Offensive and Ussuri River Clashes, 1967-1969 230

10 Selective Genocide in Bangladesh, 1971 254

11 The India-Pakistan War, 1971 271

12 The Fall of Phnom Penh and Saigon, 1975-1979 298

13 The Cambodian Nightmare, 1975-1979 330

Part III The Great Sectarian Revolt of the Late Cold War, 1975-1990 359

14 The Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1978 366

15 The Iranian Revolution, 1978-1979 393

16 The Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan, 1978-1979 418

17 The Middle East at War, 1980-1982 452

18 Reagan's War for the Middle East, 1983-1987 491

19 "You Are Creating a Frankenstein," 1988-1990 530

Conclusion 556

Acknowledgments 563

Notes 567

Index 607

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