Christopher Andrew

The Big Chill

The Cold War: A World History

By

Allen Lane 710pp £30 order from our bookshop

The most difficult question posed by the Cold War is why it did not end in hot war. Odd Arne Westad, a professor of history at Harvard, argues persuasively that it very nearly did: ‘On a couple of occasions, we were much closer to nuclear devastation than anyone but a few people realized. Nuclear war could have broken out by accident, or as a result of intelligence failures.’ In 1962 Fidel Castro seems to have believed that the Cuban Missile Crisis would end in thermonuclear warfare. In what he probably intended as a farewell letter to Nikita Khrushchev, he urged him to take the ‘harsh and terrible’ decision to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States if it invaded Cuba.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,
    • Here's @epkaufm's Whiteshift, reviewed in this month's magazine by ,