12 of the Best Cold War History Books

During the 20th century, the United States was involved in several wars, but one of the wars that lasted the longest wasn’t fought on any battlegrounds: the Cold War. The Cold War began in 1947, and was defined by the open rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and its allies. The name came from an article written about the two world powers by author George Orwell during World War II. It was a war fought on political, economic, and propaganda fronts, which resulted in anti-communist suspicions, such as those presented by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare, and international incidents, like the Bay of Pigs. The Cold War continued for almost five decades, ending with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Because the Cold War was so long and had many players and events, a lot of fascinating books have been written about it. Here is a look at 10 of the best Cold War history books for adults. These tales of espionage and intrigue detail a time of suspicion and fear not that far in the past, and include true stories that read like bestselling spy novels.


Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor and velocireader in the great state of Maine, where she reads 500-600 books a year and lives with her three cats, who were not alive during the Cold War.