Cover image for Historical dictionary of the Cold War
Historical dictionary of the Cold War
Smith, Joseph, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 329 pages ; 23 cm.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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D843 .S547 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Joseph Smith and Simon Davis have captured the essence and madness of the "balance of terror" of the Cold War in the Historical Dictionary of the Cold War. Covering an extensive period and much of the globe, this dictionary presents a year-by-year chronology and alphabetical entries on civilian and military leaders, crucial countries and peripheral conflicts, the increasingly lethal weapons systems, and the various political and military strategies. While both authors are specialists in American foreign policy and diplomacy, Smith has a particular interest in United States relations with Latin America and Davis in Anglo-American relations. This broader focus is helpful, since it enables the authors to have a broader view of the Cold War, and having studied and lived in Great Britain, they view events from a more neutral perspective. This, and a conscious effort to maintain a scholary balance, enhances the objectivity of this volume. Smith and Davis have produced an easy-to-use reference tool for both the history scholar and student.

Author Notes

Joseph Smith is a reader in American diplomatic history at Exeter University in England. Simon Davis is presently Assistant Professor of History at Bronx Community College of New York City University. Both have written extensively on the period and are specialists in American foreign policy and diplomacy.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Entries on civilian and military leaders, key countries, weapons systems, agreements, conferences, and more are accompanied by a day-by-day chronology and an extensive bibliography. This volume joins several others on the topic, including The Cold War Reference Guide (McFarland, 1997), The Columbia Guide to the Cold War (1998), and Encyclopedia of Cold War Politics (Facts On File, 2000).

Library Journal Review

The dangerous Cold War era (1945-91) was one of immense political, cultural, and historical significance. Smith (American diplomatic history, Exeter Univ., U.K.; The Cold War: 1945-1991) and Davis (history, Bronx Community Coll.) provide medium-length to long entries about the important people, organizations, treaties, and events of this period. Persons new to the subject are invited to read the 27-page introduction for a narrative history of the period's main themes and events. The layout and writing of this material make it easy to read, and numerous cross references are embedded in the text of each entry. The book contains a long chronology, a list of acronyms and abbreviations, and a good 33-page bibliography. There are, however, no photographs, maps, or index. Other recent reference works in this field include The Cold War, 1945-1991, edited by Benjamin Frankel (Gale, 1992), Thomas S. Arms's Encyclopedia of the Cold War (LJ 11/15/94), and Thomas Parrish's The Cold War Encyclopedia (LJ 12/1/95). Not surprisingly, The Historical Dictionary has some newer information than these books, which nevertheless have more entries that are more in-depth. The dictionary is a nice complement, but if you have these other books, you can survive without it. It is suitable, however, for all reference collections that do not have comparable resources.DDaniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Entries in this work offer relatively brief descriptions of important people, places, events, concepts, and organizations, average one to two paragraphs in length, and attempt to place each subject in its Cold War and historical context. Articles are reasonably objective and accurate, considering that this topic still generates partisan passions. The authors are British historians who have written previously on the Cold War (especially Smith), and both specialize in US diplomatic history. Their research interests are reflected in the work's scope: subjects are drawn mainly from the military, political, diplomatic, and intelligence aspects of the Cold War. A substantial number of entries treat the Communist Bloc and the Third World, but US subjects are the most heavily covered. Additional useful features include a chronology, a solid introductory essay, and a lengthy, up-to-date bibliography. The work lacks any index or list of entries. Nevertheless, undergraduates should find this a useful source on the military and political facets of the Cold War. D. Durant; East Carolina University