Cold War: The Essential Reference Guide. Ed. by James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2012. 443 pages, acid free $89 (ISBN 978-1-61069003-4). Ebook available (978-1-61069-004-1), call for pricing.
One of the ironies of modern history is that the "Cold War" was much hotter than the 24-hour-news-covered conflicts since that time. Millions of people died in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and the many smaller clashes of the East-West stare down.
A new book about the Cold War is welcome if for no other reason than to put history in perspective history since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. This single volume's 85 interesting entries tell about a time when many world leaders rejected capitalism, and the possibility of nuclear war destroying civilization seemed much more likely than it does today. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Airlift, the nuclear arms race, Josef Stalin, and other important subjects are included.
The guide suffers somewhat, however, in having so few entries, although it should be noted that the title does include the word "Essential." Among the subjects not directly addressed are Iran, Nicaragua, Chile, Vo Nguyen Giap, Douglas McArthur, and Pope John Paul II. The index does help readers find references to many subjects that do not have their own entries. One of those is the Soviet Union itself, which has many indexed references, but none of them point to the decisive events of 1989-1991. …