The best books on The Cold War, recommended by Archie Brown

American military and economic superiority cannot explain why the Cold War came to an end in the late 1980s and early 1990s. According to the historian Archie Brown, you need to accept the primacy of politics and human agency both in the USSR and the West. He chooses five books to understand the Cold War and offers some broader reflections on the qualities of good political leadership—then and now.

The best books on Modern German History, recommended by Hester Vaizey

In the 20th century, Germany suffered defeat in two world wars and withstood two kinds of dictatorship. Yet today it is Europe’s strongest economy. Hester Vaizey, fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and author of Born in the GDR, selects five brilliant books on a tumultuous century.

The Best Tales of Soviet Russia, recommended by Robert Chandler

Robert Chandler, one of the best known translators of Russian literature, recommends some of his favourite tales of Soviet Russia. There’s the one about a dog in space and the one about the Soviet café which stocked nothing but champagne and Mars bars…

The best books on 20th Century Russia, recommended by Francis Spufford

Reading about Russia’s 20th century is like finding another vision of how the world might have been. Francis Spufford, author of Red Plenty, recommends books that tell the story of Russia in the last century — from Soviet science fiction set in capitalist wastelands to Khrushchev as raconteur.

The best books on Revolutionary Russia, recommended by Thomas Keneally

Best-selling author Thomas Keneally explains that the Cold War biographies couldn’t afford to say that Stalin was attractive, or that Lenin was magnetic, but they were, because otherwise people wouldn’t have followed them. He picks some great introductions to Revolutionary Russia.