Publisher: Oneworld Publications
ISBN-10: 1851686800
ISBN-13: 978-1851686803
Publication year: 2009
Price £9.99

For nearly half a century the world was divided in two, wrenched apart by superpowers that perceived the nations of the world only as either capitalist or communist. The Cold War was a battle not of weapons but rather of minds, fought by intelligence agencies and covert government envoys, while propaganda machines worked behind the scenes to create the illusion of a constant threat of conspiracy and treason.

In The Cold War: A Beginner’s Guide, Merrilyn Thomas peels back layers of deception and intrigue to dispel the myths and reassess many of the commonly-held truths which have since shaped our world. She offers a global view of events as she contrasts the Western experience with that of the Soviet Union and its allies. From the power of Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ to the menace of nuclear annihilation, this compelling account brings to life one of history’s most contentious periods, the legacy of which still haunts us today.


There probably never was a war more susceptible to myth making than the Cold War. Largely fought in secret by the intelligence services of the USA, the Soviet Union, Britain and the two Germanies, it was a battle for and of minds in which the main weapons were propaganda and deception. Certainly, transparency was not the aim of any of the main protagonists, nor was it their wish to leave a clear record for posterity. As a result, grasping the reality of the Cold War can be as tantalising as catching a sunbeam. …

This splendid book presents a sensitively observed introduction to one of the great themes of contemporary history. Its achievement is … to show just why it continues to matter fundamentally in the world that we know today.

Dr Andrew Chandler

As passion and prejudice continue to blight Cold War histories, Merrilyn Thomas’s judicious and balanced account is a refreshing and welcome contribution. The critical insights and thoughtful analysis will prove valuable to scholars [and] all readers can enjoy and learn from Thomas’s unravelling of a complex era.

Dr Dianne Kirby

This book was a pleasant surprise. Books about the cold war tend to be hard going, but this one was very easy to read. … [It is ] fair in its treatment of the protagonists, praising and criticising the West and the Soviets where appropriate.