At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War (Paperback)
“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.”
About the Author
Thomas C. Reed is a former Secretary of the Air Force. He has been Director of National Reconnaissance, a Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Policy, and a consultant to the Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where much of the country’s nuclear weapons research takes place. He lives in northern California.
Praise for At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War…
“In the 1960s Tom Reed was one of Livermore’s most creative designers of thermonuclear devices. During the years that followed, his career as a practicing physicist and as a public servant has been first class.”
—EDWARD TELLER, Father of the H-bomb
“Tom Reed was one of our youngest Air Force Secretaries. He served with distinction in the most difficult of times. His book captures those years and those dangers beautifully.” —GEN. RUSSELL DOUGHERTY, USAF (Ret.), Former Commander in Chief, Strategic Air Command
“Mr. Reed was there as a key advisor when President Reagan settled on his plan for ending the Cold War. From the very beginning of their relationship, in 1965, Reagan has trusted and relied on Reed.” —JUDGE WILLIAM P. CLARK, Former National Security Advisor to President Reagan
“Tom Reed offers a unique inside account of President Reagan on the brink, as he maneuvered for a U.S. victory in the Cold War. It is a most valuable and readable assessment.” —LOU CANNON, Author of President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
"[N]ot only provides a thorough history and analysis of the [Cold] War, but takes a jarring lessons-learned portrait of the successes and failures in military policy and strategy that prolonged and placated perhaps the most enduring international conflict of this generation . . . ." - Sea Power
“[A] fascinating Cold War book.” --William Safire
“The book deserves quite high marks for how much it pulls together, as well as offering a viewpoint on the Cold War not nearly sufficiently well-represented in the public literature.” --Publishers Weekly