Strategy, Money, and the New Look, 1953-1956
By Richard M. Leighton
U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001, 808 pp.
The third volume in the massive official history of the office of the secretary of defense, this book upholds the same weighty standards of integrity and thoroughness as its predecessors. It summarizes one of the most interesting periods in Cold War defense policy, when American planners settled in for the long competition with the Soviet Union, adapted to new technologies (particularly in the nuclear realm), and cut force size while embarking on what is known today as "defense transformation." Intercontinental ballistic missiles, continental air defense, the permanent stationing of U.S. forces in Europe, and the Army's revolt against massive retaliation are all impartially examined by a dedicated historian who has been at the job since World War II. If policymakers had time to read big books, this one should be high on their required list.