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Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness

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From UFOs to Dr. Strangelove, LSD experiments to Richard Nixon, author Brian Brown investigates the paranoid, panicked history of the Cold War. In Someone Is Out to Get Us, Brian T. Brown explores the delusions, absurdities, and best-kept secrets of the Cold War, during which the United States fought an enemy of its own making for over forty years -- and nearly scared From UFOs to Dr. Strangelove, LSD experiments to Richard Nixon, author Brian Brown investigates the paranoid, panicked history of the Cold War. In Someone Is Out to Get Us, Brian T. Brown explores the delusions, absurdities, and best-kept secrets of the Cold War, during which the United States fought an enemy of its own making for over forty years -- and nearly scared itself to death in the process. The nation chose to fear a chimera, a rotting communist empire that couldn't even feed itself, only for it to be revealed that what lay behind the Iron Curtain was only a sad Potemkin village. In fact, one of the greatest threats to our national security may have been our closest ally. The most effective spy cell the Soviets ever had was made up of aristocratic Englishmen schooled at Cambridge. Establishing a communist peril but lacking proof, J. Edgar Hoover became our Big Brother, and Joseph McCarthy went hunting for witches. Richard Nixon stepped into the spotlight as an opportunistic, ruthless Cold Warrior; his criminal cover-up during a dark presidency was exposed by a Deep Throat in a parking garage. Someone Is Out to Get Us is the true and complete account of a long-misunderstood period of history during which lies, conspiracies, and paranoia led Americans into a state of madness and misunderstanding, too distracted by fictions to realize that the real enemy was looking back at them in the mirror the whole time. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; min-height: 15.0px}


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From UFOs to Dr. Strangelove, LSD experiments to Richard Nixon, author Brian Brown investigates the paranoid, panicked history of the Cold War. In Someone Is Out to Get Us, Brian T. Brown explores the delusions, absurdities, and best-kept secrets of the Cold War, during which the United States fought an enemy of its own making for over forty years -- and nearly scared From UFOs to Dr. Strangelove, LSD experiments to Richard Nixon, author Brian Brown investigates the paranoid, panicked history of the Cold War. In Someone Is Out to Get Us, Brian T. Brown explores the delusions, absurdities, and best-kept secrets of the Cold War, during which the United States fought an enemy of its own making for over forty years -- and nearly scared itself to death in the process. The nation chose to fear a chimera, a rotting communist empire that couldn't even feed itself, only for it to be revealed that what lay behind the Iron Curtain was only a sad Potemkin village. In fact, one of the greatest threats to our national security may have been our closest ally. The most effective spy cell the Soviets ever had was made up of aristocratic Englishmen schooled at Cambridge. Establishing a communist peril but lacking proof, J. Edgar Hoover became our Big Brother, and Joseph McCarthy went hunting for witches. Richard Nixon stepped into the spotlight as an opportunistic, ruthless Cold Warrior; his criminal cover-up during a dark presidency was exposed by a Deep Throat in a parking garage. Someone Is Out to Get Us is the true and complete account of a long-misunderstood period of history during which lies, conspiracies, and paranoia led Americans into a state of madness and misunderstanding, too distracted by fictions to realize that the real enemy was looking back at them in the mirror the whole time. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; min-height: 15.0px}

30 review for Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marcella Wigg

    1.5 stars. The critical reader reviews I've seen so far of Someone Is Out to Get Us have focused on Brown's liberal slant on U.S. politics during the Cold War. He is certainly less sympathetic to Republicans than to Democrats (although he criticizes both), but that doesn't invalidate many of his points about American political opportunism in the Cold War, which are, in my opinion, mostly valid, though very well-trod territory. Joe McCarthy, Allen Dulles, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover abused 1.5 stars. The critical reader reviews I've seen so far of Someone Is Out to Get Us have focused on Brown's liberal slant on U.S. politics during the Cold War. He is certainly less sympathetic to Republicans than to Democrats (although he criticizes both), but that doesn't invalidate many of his points about American political opportunism in the Cold War, which are, in my opinion, mostly valid, though very well-trod territory. Joe McCarthy, Allen Dulles, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover abused their powers! The U.S. imported Nazi scientists to fight the Soviet Union! The lack of communication between the Soviets and Americans during the Cold War led to near-constant panic! Quelle surprise! No, what bothers me most about this book is the massive amount of hindsight bias here. The idea that fall of communism was "preordained" (Brown's words) from the end of World War II by the clear superiority of the republican capitalist system, shown in its relative wealth and the freedom of its citizens, rests on the assumption that, barring tanks forcing people into submission, the populace will be given the option to choose its own form of government and that people who've lived under tyranny in the past, if given the choice, will vote for republicanism. But this isn't as clear-cut as Brown appears to believe; multiple countries' current political situations attest to that. Frankly, that mentality struck me as worthy of Alden Pyle. Also, while Brown synthesizes a variety of Cold War scholarship in a quickly readable way, there is a heavy reliance on other, more narrowly-focused histories rather than primary source material, which left me with the feeling that not a lot here is novel, and also made this seem rather like an opinionated textbook about American misbehavior during the Cold War. It just doesn't go as in-depth on any single topic as I prefer. And why'd this book come after Sputnik as supposedly not as impressive as people thought because it took multiple launch attempts and all it did was beep?! Creating the first artificial satellite in human history was an incredible accomplishment, no matter how lame it looks decades later. If the extent of your exposure to Cold War history is listening to "We Didn't Start the Fire" or you're interested in assembling a reading list of good Cold War books, this might be a fine jumping-off point; I can attest, from the source books I've read, that many of them are excellent. Otherwise, I wouldn't really recommend.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Ditkoff

    Fun/compelling/multiple perspectives on the Cold War. Makes you feel like you are living in those Scary Times. Highly recommend its to both serious historians and culture buffs. Couldn’t put it down.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I was alive during the cold war but mostly remember it from the disco era and the Reagan era. This book emphasizes the early cold war a lot but covers the whole period up to the fall of the Berlin wall. Most of the history I am familiar with the author covers the high drama and superpower muscling mostly in the arena of spies and nukes. The stuff that a lot of cold war histories focus on. However, most of the cold war in terms of lives lost was fought in developing countries in the third world I was alive during the cold war but mostly remember it from the disco era and the Reagan era. This book emphasizes the early cold war a lot but covers the whole period up to the fall of the Berlin wall. Most of the history I am familiar with the author covers the high drama and superpower muscling mostly in the arena of spies and nukes. The stuff that a lot of cold war histories focus on. However, most of the cold war in terms of lives lost was fought in developing countries in the third world to use a cold war term. So while the author is very candid about revelations of operation paperclip, or MK-Ultra, or the McCarthey witch hunts very little attention is paid the real arena of the cold war outside of mentions in the middle east. You won't hear much about Indonesia, Vietnam 0utside of its impact on Johnson or Nixon, Chile, Nicaragua, Cambodia, El Salvador, etc. I liked the cloak and dagger and the depiction of paranoia and fears of nuclear armageddon but the cold war involved more than that. It is a standard history for a cold war liberal but not all-encompassing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan The Book Dragon Campton

    Welcome back to another Throwback Thursday where we travel back in time to visit an event, person, place or thing and relive an era. This week’s trip back in time, is not, unfortunately a gem, it is a very low grade semi-precious stone, fun to look at, but there is not much to it. I was excited to get it, but having started to read it, became disappointed rather quickly and then slogged through it and began to check resources and other actual Gems to double check Brown’s facts. This is Brian T. Welcome back to another Throwback Thursday where we travel back in time to visit an event, person, place or thing and relive an era. This week’s trip back in time, is not, unfortunately a gem, it is a very low grade semi-precious stone, fun to look at, but there is not much to it. I was excited to get it, but having started to read it, became disappointed rather quickly and then slogged through it and began to check resources and other actual Gems to double check Brown’s facts. This is Brian T. Brown’s “Someone Is Out To Get Us”. Brown starts out, in his Introduction, with the tiresome premise that Vladimir Putin and Russian bots sabotaged the last elections. He goes on to say that the Cold War was based on a complete lie. The United Soviet Socialist Republic (U.S.S.R.) only hurt it’s own citizens and never went beyond it’s own borders with communism. He seems to believe that had the United States explained to everyone that the Russians were just misguided, big old cuddly bears and we had nothing to fear everything would have turned out hunky dory. But then he contradicts himself just a few pages later. If Brown were to actually stop and think that had the Soviets succeeded in spreading Communism as they actually wanted to and as their leaders claimed (Lenin, Stalin, etc), then the things that happened there, would most certainly have happened here. The gulags of Siberia and North Korea, would have been here and anywhere that Communism exists, just ask Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He says Soviet spies were not as dangerous as Britain’s “Magnificent Five”. These were Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Sir Donald Maclean, John Caincross and Guy Burgess. Philby eventually became the head of MI6 counterintelligence and to keep himself from being exposed as a soviet double agent, lead to slaughter a Russian who was defector. Konstantin Volkov and his wife were assassinated by the NKVD in the basement of Lubyanka Prison thanks to Philby tipping off the Russians that he was about to defect and give the British the information the West needed about the Russians. Never mind that the Volkov’s had already made it out of Russia when they were taken back. Brown blames the British, but this is plain old supply and demand. Philby wouldn’t have been supplying Volkov and Volkov wouldn’t have been defecting if the Soviets hadn’t had their system of government in place. Brown doesn’t seem to get this and continues to contradict himself throughout the book. But Brown is at least transparent. We know which side of the political spectrum he stands on and so we can take his book with a grain of salt and make sure we keep our own resources handy. I prefer to read what was happening in Russia and other communist, socialist countries during the Cold War from the perspective of those who lived in them and through them. Some of the very best of these books are: MAO by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Stalin by Edvard Radzinsky, Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pol Pot by Phillip Short and Exposing the Real Che Guevara by Humberto Fontova. I would suggest reading those first, then perhaps give this one a once over. I also suggest reading American and Western history during the Cold War, the same way. Read the details on my December 1st post! Until tomorrow, I remain, your humble Book Dragon, Drakon T. Longwitten I received a copy of this book from Twelve a Hatchett Book Group in exchange for an honest review

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Strange to say but I don't think I've seen a book which is a history specifically of the entire Cold War. There are books that focus on one subject or person and go from there but this keeps it's focus on a broader sense in order to cover as much as possible. There are many short chapters which all hit a different point. Flipping through the bibliography, it's a long list of books I always wanted to read but haven't been able to. The depth obviously is fairly shallow on each point but it's deep Strange to say but I don't think I've seen a book which is a history specifically of the entire Cold War. There are books that focus on one subject or person and go from there but this keeps it's focus on a broader sense in order to cover as much as possible. There are many short chapters which all hit a different point. Flipping through the bibliography, it's a long list of books I always wanted to read but haven't been able to. The depth obviously is fairly shallow on each point but it's deep enough to get the greatest hits of each. The biggest point this book has in its favor is the readability. It's a fairly large book and it never bored me(though I did not enjoy or understand the reason for the 2nd-person section on Watergate). It has a POV but that's fine. A lot of these books don't have a POV and let the facts speak for themselves and as a result seem to read like encyclopedias(and I don't finish them). I was a little upset he quotes that John Wayne/KGB story from a discredited biographer. Hopefully that's the only dubious research in there.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karl W.

    Meticulously researched, Brian Brown's look at the evolution of the cold war accomplishes the difficult task of weaving historical events from different points of view into an gripping story. His passion and flow brings history to life. As a fan of historical non-fiction, I have trouble putting this down. The only caveat is that depending where you are in the book, reading it before bed time may leave you a bit un-nerved, making it hard to fall asleep.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    First I would like to state that I have received this book through goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. This book was a very interesting read. It pulls you in and keeps you wanting more. I would recommend this book to others. It is a very good read

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sean Perkins

    I gobbled this book up! It's so well researched and the author did a great job of making this intense and complicated history feel like a narrative story. Def would recommend to people who love history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Beth Ann Ditkoff

    Someone is Out to Get Us is a timely and easy read. The chapters are individual stories that connect to a comprehensive and thorough book. Brown gives enough details without being distracting. I recommend this book for history lovers and anyone who likes to read well-written narrative nonfiction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    First: This has the makings of a textbook. Second: That said, I still enjoyed reading it! Facts and events were presented in digestible, entertaining nuggets. Even when I disagreed on certain points; I still found myself doing additional research. Did that REALLY happen that way? I remembered it differently... That's the great thing about history and politics. They are subject to revision as new information is added. Perspectives change as we acquire knowledge. So should policy. I am contemporary First: This has the makings of a textbook. Second: That said, I still enjoyed reading it! Facts and events were presented in digestible, entertaining nuggets. Even when I disagreed on certain points; I still found myself doing additional research. Did that REALLY happen that way? I remembered it differently... That's the great thing about history and politics. They are subject to revision as new information is added. Perspectives change as we acquire knowledge. So should policy. I am contemporary with Mr. Brown (ok, fudging a few years); but much of what he covers I am VERY familiar with. I lived in ABQ, NM for 15 years. Have lived in Austria/Hungary. I am fluent in German and was working on my M.A. in Political Science/International Relations when I moved and had twins; but, I have never given up my interest in the world around me. This was an EXCELLENT read for me. While I was a bit disappointed in that Brown did not pursue the links between the paranoia of the present and perhaps draw some examples of how Cold War experiences affect today's policy and decision makers, I can see he laid the groundwork for his next book (hint!) Stopping with Reagan was a cop-out in my humble opinion! But, that said, the Cold War essentially ended in 1989. Brown was within his right to end at pg 465. He does hint at how many of those policies have come back to haunt us in his summary (Taliban & Middle East policies). I was bummed, Brown didn't mention the EC/EEC which was quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the time. Brown focuses heavily on military policy and diplomacy/espionage, but missed that key element: economic blocs. The establishment of the European Economic Community was HUGE in applying pressure on the Soviets that they weren't ready to deal with. Still - given the overwhelming volume of information, this is an excellent overview of the Cold War. A starting point for conspiracy theorists and revisionsts to discuss and debate over microbrews or a savvy history teacher to assign and hope his kids walk away with greater enlightenment. I gifted my 17-year old twins with hardcopies, much to their 'delight'- we're weird that way. But, in all honesty, a compendium of Cold War history (regardless of polical views), is well worth the read as the underlying paranoia that drove much of Cold War policy and definied many of it's leaders is still with us today. An inheritance many don't fully understand. I like to think, we've come a long ways... but in essence, we are always a hair away from repeating past mistakes. Gratitude to Brown for having put his sources at the end, it minimizes distractions. However, I wish the photos had been included in the relevant chapters; they would have had more impact and underscored the key events. But, overall, I could not have presented anything better and had over 600 highlights and notes. Any book that gets us thinking is worth the paper it's printed on!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness by Brian Brown contains summaries of a vast number of historical events that occurred during the decades-long Cold War period. If you are looking for new insights or analysis of this period, or if you are a serious historical scholar, this is probably not the book for you. However, if you are looking for summaries on a little of this and a little of that, you may enjoy this book. The book relies on secondary Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness by Brian Brown contains summaries of a vast number of historical events that occurred during the decades-long Cold War period. If you are looking for new insights or analysis of this period, or if you are a serious historical scholar, this is probably not the book for you. However, if you are looking for summaries on a little of this and a little of that, you may enjoy this book. The book relies on secondary sources to provide highlights and overviews. The author covers a vast amount of material in under 500 pages, so it is difficult for him to really dive deeply into what was a complex time in world history. He summarizes pieces of previously published works and includes quotes from world leaders of the time. His citations are massive and will provide the reader with sources that can provide more in-depth writings on topics from the Cold War. This may sound picky, but the author has a relatively straight forward and easy to read writing style for non-fiction for most of the book. Then, in the last few chapters, he begins to use different devices. It was distracting for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lawman72

    Essentially, this book is less a history of the Cold War and more one big editorial regarding the Cold War and how useless it was. The book takes the slant that the US government was driven by unreasonable paranoia and that if only we had just realized that the Soviets really didn’t want to conquer the world. Which is all well and good with the benefit of hindsight. There are very clear biases in the writing and he appears to have a political as to grind.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Thm

    Entertaining, informative and a bit disturbing, too. Turns out the Cold War narrative we were given in school was less than truthful and fueled by political and financial ambitions of many Americans. The Russians were no model citizens either. Brian Brown’s mission of truth-telling makes for an easy and compelling read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kade

    A book about a subject matter that I really enjoy that just didn't work. It jumped from topic to topic without really any cohesion. Most of the topics were just touched upon and felt the writing was a bit lazy, constantly using quotes from others about certain events.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Not particularly balanced or well researched. But entertaining!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paperclippe

    This made me violently angry and I couldn't put it down. Important and viciously relevant. And sad. Just so fucking sad.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Duguay

  19. 5 out of 5

    Twbrown

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

  23. 5 out of 5

    Luke Brown

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jake Strickler

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

  28. 5 out of 5

    Doris Moore

  29. 4 out of 5

    Philip

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Robbins

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