Deterring Armageddon: A Biography of NATO - Peter Apps

Deterring Armageddon: A Biography of NATO - Peter Apps

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The history of the world's most successful military alliance, from the wrecked Europe of 1945 to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

As they signed NATO into being after World War II, its founders fervently believed that only if the West's democracies banded permanently together could they avoid a catastrophic global atomic conflict. Over the 75 years since, the alliance has indeed avoided war with Russia, also becoming a major political, strategic and diplomatic player well beyond its borders. It has survived disagreements between leaders from Eisenhower, Churchill and de Gaulle to Trump, Stoltenberg and Merkel, faced down Kremlin foes from Stalin to Putin and endured unending questions and debate over what new nations might be allowed to join.

Deterring Armageddon takes the reader from backroom deals that led to NATO's creation, through the Cold War, the Balkans and Afghanistan to the current confrontation with the Kremlin following the invasion of Ukraine. It examines the tightrope walked by alliance leaders between a powerful United States sometimes flirting with isolationism and European nations with their ever-evolving wishes for autonomy and influence. Having spent much of its life preparing for conflicts that might never come, NATO has sometimes found itself in wars that few had predicted - and with its members now again planning for a potential major European conflict.

It is a tale of tension, danger, rivalry, conflict, big personalities and high-stakes military and diplomatic posturing - as well as espionage, politics and protest. From the Korean War to the pandemic, the Berlin and Cuba crises to the chaotic evacuation from Kabul, Deterring Armageddon tells how the alliance has shaped and been shaped by history - and looks ahead to what might be the most dangerous era it has ever faced.

'Utterly eye-opening - compelling, haunting and continually illuminating. As Peter Apps so brilliantly demonstrates in this gripping book, the story of the NATO alliance is in many ways a parallel global history of the last 75 years. As well as all the outbreaks of seething tension between the US and its European allies - and the counter-moves of rival powers - this is also an account of just how often in those postwar years that we all stood on the edge of the most terrible abyss. With mesmerising fluency, and dazzling research, Apps follows the criss-crossing threads of the Cold War and beyond. Those threads converge in our shadowed present, and the conflict in Ukraine. In order to fathom today's dark world, Apps has explored a labyrinth of once-classified history, and he brings dazzling clarity.' - Sinclair McKay