Images of The National Archives Cold War

Images of The National Archives Cold War

Stephen Twigge
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Judging from the forum comments on here there are a hardcore of ARRSE members to whom the Cold War forms an intricate part of their lives. To that end I would suggest that Stephen Twigges’ Images of The National Archives Cold War will resonate with many of us.

As perhaps expected it does consist of many grainy black and white images some of which may be familiar however many are probably appearing for public consumption for the first time. The author has taken a generally linear approach starting at the end of the Second World War and progressing through particular aspects of the period in turn and concluding logically with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mr Twigge has (not surprisingly as a senior historian of The National Archives) has chosen his images with care and then put flesh on the bones of them in the accompanying text to bring out the atmosphere of the era with great success. The book addresses common aspects such as the nuclear arms race, NATO v The Warsaw Pact, proxy wars, and the culture. To me though with only a little knowledge of the subject to start with the chapter dealing with Spies and Traitors was highly illuminating bringing the infamous Blunt, Burgess and Maclean to life amongst others. The true depth of their betrayal is shocking. Quite sobering to me was the mundane language and brevity of various diplomatic notes included in the chapter whose terse and detached words condemned men and women to death, imprisonment, or indeed freedom.

Also covered in some detail are the activities of BRIXMIS and the missions various successes. Many of the fuzzy photos of Migs and T-80s etc were familiar to a degree from intelligence briefings in BAOR their source (of course) at the time was a mystery to me. Also of great interest to me was the chapter dealing with Civil Defence, who could ever forget the chilling voice from the Protect and Survive information films and the leaflets detailing shelter construction form household items? I could almost hear Frankie Goes to Hollywood playing in the background (Two Tribes incidentally features not only as a chapter title, but also in the Cold War culture section).

A wonderful evocative read for some of us and perhaps a necessary education for other to learn why the world is as it is today.

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Sounds good for the Christmas list , BRIXMIS interesting