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The War of Nerves

Inside the Cold War Mind

‘War of Nerves’ book cover

A major new history of the Cold War, exploring the conflict through the minds of the people who lived it.

A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

More than any other conflict, the Cold War was fought on the battlefield of the human mind. And, nearly 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, its legacy still endures – not only in our politics, but in our own thoughts and fears.

Drawing on a vast array of untapped archives and unseen sources, Martin Sixsmith vividly recreates the tensions and paranoia of the Cold War, framing it for the first time from a psychological perspective.

Revisiting towering personalities like Khrushchev, Kennedy and Nixon, as well as the lives of the unknown millions who were caught up in the conflict, this is a gripping account of fear itself – and in today’s uncertain times, it is more resonant than ever.

Sixsmith has the knack of delivering complex material with a clear voice.

The Times

Read an extract from the book

Date published
592 pages

About the author

Black and white photograph of Martin Sixsmith

Martin Sixsmith

Martin Sixsmith studied Russian at Oxford, Harvard, the Sorbonne and in St Petersburg, and psychology at Birkbeck and London Metropolitan University. He witnessed the end of the Cold War first-hand, reporting for the BBC from Moscow during the presidencies of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. He is the author of two novels and several works of non-fiction, including ‘Philomena’ and ‘Russia: A 1,000 Year Chronicle of the Wild East’.