Product 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.
Amazon.com Review Thomas Reed is certainly one of the most qualified people alive to tell the real story of the Cold War. He worked at Livermore Labs as early as 1959 and was involved in designing and testing nuclear weapons, he served as Secretary of the Air Force, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, and as a Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Policy. Even when he was not directly involved in shaping policy, he was studying and lecturing on the subject. At the Abyss is the result of his remarkable experience, and it is as fascinating as it is terrifying, for he reveals just how close the world came on many occasions to experiencing the horror of global nuclear war. The book is filled with intrigue and revelations as he sheds new light on even relatively well-known events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here he reveals that as many as 98 nuclear weapons were located in Cuba, not ! just a few as originally thought. He also reports on what transpired during closed meetings at the highest levels of government and how often events threatened to spiral out of control. He details how the information age and "the economic facts of life" eventually doomed the Soviet Union, offers personal reflections on Ron and Nancy Reagan, tells how Dick Cheney and Colin Powell "coaxed the nuclear genie back into the bottle," and how the steadfast "closers," George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, calmly and carefully brought the Cold War to a close without bloodshed and chaos---a conclusion that would have seemed inconceivable just a decade before. Even readers well acquainted with Cold War history will find much to learn in these pages. --Shawn Carkonen