April 19, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

Maxwell Taylor's Cold War

From Berlin to Vietnam

General Maxwell Taylor served at the nerve centers of US military policy and Cold War strategy and experienced firsthand the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as crises in Berlin and Cuba. Along the way he became an adversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's nuclear deterrence strategy and a champion of President John F. Kennedy's shift toward Flexible Response. Taylor also remained a public critic of defense policy and civil-military relations into the 1980s and was one of the most influential American soldiers, strategists, and diplomats. However, many historians describe him as a politicized, dishonest manipulator whose actions deeply affected the national security establishment and had lasting effects on civil-military relations in the United States.

In Maxwell Taylor's Cold War: From Berlin to Vietnam, author Ingo Trauschweizer traces the career of General Taylor, a Kennedy White House insider and architect of American strategy in Vietnam. Working with newly accessible and rarely used primary sources, including the Taylor Papers and government records from the Cold War crisis, Trauschweizer describes and analyzes this polarizing figure in American history. The major themes of Taylor's career, how to prepare the armed forces for global threats and localized conflicts and how to devise sound strategy and policy for a full spectrum of threats, remain timely and the concerns he raised about the nature of the national security apparatus have not been resolved.

About the Author

Ingo Trauschweizer is associate professor and director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University. His book The Cold War US Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War won the Distinguished Book Prize of the Society for Military History. He is the coeditor of Failed States and Fragile Societies.


"Maxwell Taylor's Cold War: From Berlin to Vietnam is the definitive professional biography of General Maxwell Taylor, a World War II hero who as US Army Chief of Staff, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and US ambassador in Saigon had an enormous impact on military policy and strategy in the Cold War and Vietnam. It is a vitally needed and timely commentary on the rise of the national security state, the evolving nature of civil-military relations, and the organization and use of the armed forces for small wars—and an important and vital addition to Cold War scholarship."—Peter Mansoor, General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair of Military History, The Ohio State University

"The first scholarly study of one of the Cold War's most important military strategists. Trauschweizer's painstaking research reveals Taylor's vital role in the post–World War II development of the US Army, national military policy, and the Vietnam War."—Brian McAllister Linn, author of Elvis's Army: Cold War GIs and the Atomic Battlefield

"This is the best biography of one of America's most influential military leaders in the Cold War. Maxwell Taylor was supremely talented, but this biography elucidates the deep flaws in his thinking that contributed to American failures in Vietnam and other interventions. Taylor's experiences continue to influence current US debates about military power and foreign policy strategy. This is a book all contemporary military and policy observers should read."—Jeremi Suri, author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office

"[An] engaging and well-paced biography of an American soldier-diplomat."—Michigan War Studies Review

"This is a thoroughly source-based, well-argued and informative biography which is, at the same time, a good read as well. It makes a contribution to Cold War historiography and to the general debate about civilian and military aspects of strategy-making."—International Journal of Military History and Historiography

"In life, Maxwell Taylor was an extremely polarizing figure—a man and soldier who was admired and liked by some and despised and detested by others. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied the impact (positive and negative) Taylor had on policy and strategy during the Cold War. Highly regarded historian and author Ingo Trauschweizer superbly weaves all of the above together in the outstanding volume, Maxwell Taylor's Cold War."—On Point

"In this well-researched book, Trauschweizer provides a balanced and meticulous appraisal of Taylor's career from 1945 until the general's death in 1987. This perspective advances our understanding of Taylor through the author's adroit use of archives, high-quality secondary sources published since the 1990s and, most notably, declassified information Kinnard did not have access to in the 1980s."—Parameters

"Trauschweizer's book offers the reader an insightful study of Taylor's life, the Cold War, and invaluable and timeless lessons on the civil-military relationship."—Journal of Advanced Military Studies

"Trauschweizer's analysis of Taylor's views on war, strategy and policy, military command, and civil-military relations is an impressive blend of military, diplomatic, and intellectual history. This book is critical for any reader interested in American foreign relations and military policy during the Cold War era."—Selection Committee for the 2020 Captain Richard Lukaszewicz Memorial Book Award

9780813177007 : maxwell-taylors-cold-war-trauschweizer
328 Pages
$35.00 USD

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