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Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War

by Daniel F. Harrington

Availablecloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-3613-4
Availableweb pdf$40.00s 978-0-8131-3614-1
Availableepub$40.00s 978-0-8131-4064-3
432 pages  Pubdate: 06/24/2012  6 x 9 x 1.25  18 b&w photos, 2 maps

The Berlin blockade brought former allies to the brink of war. Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union defeated and began their occupation of Germany in 1945, and within a few years, the Soviets and their Western partners were jockeying for control of their former foe. Attempting to thwart the Allied powers’ plans to create a unified West German government, the Soviets blocked rail and road access to the western sectors of Berlin in June 1948. With no other means of delivering food and supplies to the German people under their protection, the Allies organized the Berlin airlift.

In Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Cold War, Daniel F. Harrington examines the “Berlin question” from its origin in wartime plans for the occupation of Germany through the Paris Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in 1949. Harrington draws on previously untapped archival sources to challenge standard accounts of the postwar division of Germany, the origins of the blockade, the original purpose of the airlift, and the leadership of President Harry S. Truman. While thoroughly examining four-power diplomacy, Harrington demonstrates how the ingenuity and hard work of the people at the bottom—pilots, mechanics, and Berliners—were more vital to the airlift’s success than decisions from the top. Harrington also explores the effects of the crisis on the 1948 presidential election and on debates about the custody and use of atomic weapons. Berlin on the Brink is a fresh, comprehensive analysis that reshapes our understanding of a critical event of cold war history.

Daniel F. Harrington is deputy command historian at United States Strategic Command.

This book surpasses the many surveys and monographs on the subject that have been published over the past sixty years. It is a comprehensive study, and Harrington’s is a nuanced approach on more than one level. -- Lawrence S. Kaplan, author of NATO 1948: the Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance

One of the most thoughtful, carefully constructed, thoroughly researched and well-argued analyses of a major international crisis that I have ever read. -- Thomas A. Schwartz, Vanderbilt University

"Through meticulous research, Harrington has achieved a masterful synthesis that brings together for the first time all the intricate military, diplomatic, and political strands of the Berlin Crisis. It truly ranks as the definitive account." --Steven L. Rearden, Joint History Office, Washington, D.C.

"A scintillating book shedding new light on the history of the Berlin Airlift and the early years of the Cold War." --Helmut Trotnow, former director, Allied Museum, Berlin, Germany

"One of the most thoughtful, carefully constructed, thoroughly researched, and and well-argued analyses of a major international crisis that I have ever read." --Thomas A. Schwartz, Vanderbilt University

"This book surpasses the many surveys and monographs on the subject that have been published over the past sixty years. It is a comprehensive study, and Harrington's is a nuanced approach on more than one level." --Lawrence S. Kaplan, author of NATO 1948: The Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance

“Harrington’s history of these tense months is without equal in the quality of its scholarship and interpretative framework and will certainly become the standard historical work on this well-known event.” --Library Journal

“Harrington draws on previously untapped archival sources to challenge standard accounts of the postwar division of Germany, the origins of the blockade, the original purpose of the airlift, and the leadership of President Harry S. Truman.”
--McCormick Messenger

Harrington's superb narrative of the evolution of the Berlin crisis is right on many counts. -- American Historical Review -- Sheldon Anderson

Daniel F. Harrington does not seek to recapture a heroic version of the airlift, but celebrates it more subtly. -- Journal of American History -- Paul Steege

Harrington's research in U.S. depositories is espeically outstanding, leaving no relevant government documents or personal papers unexamined. -- H-Net Reviews -- Fred M. McCormick

Successfully exploiting a rich variety of primary and secondary sources, with excellent maps and photos,...Cold War scholars, graduate students, undergraduates, and those interested in the crisis should take note of what Harrington believes we can learn from it. -- Historian

Berlin on the Brink is scholarship of the highest order...The analytical insight, intellectual rigor, and breadth and depth of research that characterize this volume ensure that its arguments will continue to set the tone of historical debates about the Berlin airlift for a long time to come. -- Air Power History

"Harrington's highly readable account of the first major crisis of the Cold War is distinguished by its ability to describe the high politics of governmental decision-making and evoke the human apsects of the crisis months." -- Victor Mauer, International Affairs

Daniel F. Harrington has written a superb narrative of the evolution of the Berlin crisis. -- Sheldon Anderson -- American Historical Review

Daniel F. Harrington has written a superb narrative of the evolution of the Berlin crisis. -- American Historical Review