Friday, 7 October 2016

So What's A Great Single Volume History to Complement Twilight Struggle?

This month I had the pleasure of purchasing and reading The Cold War by a man who has been called the 'dean of Cold War historians', John Lewis Gaddis.

I have the paperback  - cheap as - version that comes in at only 266 pages. Associated with that is the only gripe I have with the book - the font size is small enough to be a tad annoying.

If, like me, you are a fan of Twilight Struggle - and are looking for an insightful single volume overview of the Cold War as a kind of companion to the game - then I can highly recommend this title. What this book is not, is a comprehensive A-Z guide to all of the events cited in the game. Rather, the author elegantly steps through the various stages of the Cold War in chronological fashion, ably providing expert analysis and evaluation of key events, personalities and themes that came to define the fascinating course of the Cold War. It's not a dry read either.....Gaddis writes with aplomb, wit and penetrating insight...all contributing to an enjoyable read.

Two fans of Twilight Struggle ham it up to celebrate their 100th game!
(Photo by Fred Shugars)
Reading The Cold War made it clear to me that while Twilight Struggle may be a great duelling-style game, it's also incredibly simplistic in its rendition of the conflict and cannot possibly capture many of the significant philosophies, personalities and the ebb and flow of social and economic currents that played a crucial role in how the history played out. China and Mao for example are such huge players in Cold War history, but are only given tangential treatment in the game. And what about concepts such as Mutually Assured Destruction that are just so central and unique to the story of the Cold War?

Perhaps future games on this subject will seek to build a more nuanced portrait of this long and titanic struggle. I look forward to that. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy playing Twilight Struggle!


  1. I also enjoyed John Gaddis' book on Kindle some time ago. Also prompted by Twilight Struggle :) Recommend Space Race by Deborah Cadbury as a companion piece. An excellent exciting history of the Space Race between the two super powers with a detailed often unknown history of the Soviet program and Korolev, the Great Designer.

  2. Appreciate the tip re Cadbury, Roger. Added to the reading list!