Cold War at 30,000 Feet: The Anglo-American Fight for Aviation Supremacy / Edition 1

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Overview

In a gripping story of international power and deception, Jeffrey Engel reveals the “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain in a new and far more competitive light. As allies, they fought communism. As rivals, they locked horns over which would lead the Cold War fight. In the quest for sovereignty and hegemony, one important key was airpower, which created jobs, forged ties with the developing world, and, perhaps most importantly in a nuclear world, ensured military superiority.
Only the United States and Britain were capable of supplying the post-war world’s ravenous appetite for aircraft. The Americans hoped to use this dominance as a bludgeon not only against the Soviets and Chinese, but also against any ally that deviated from Washington’s rigid brand of anticommunism. Eager to repair an economy shattered by war and never as committed to unflinching anticommunism as their American allies, the British hoped to sell planes even beyond the Iron Curtain, reaping profits, improving East-West relations, and garnering the strength to withstand American hegemony.
Engel traces the bitter fights between these intimate allies from Europe to Latin America to Asia as each sought control over the sale of aircraft and technology throughout the world. The Anglo–American competition for aviation supremacy affected the global balance of power and the fates of developing nations such as India, Pakistan, and China. But without aviation, Engel argues, Britain would never have had the strength to function as a brake upon American power, the way trusted allies should.
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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review

Jeffrey A. Engel's study of Anglo–American rivalry in aviation provides a fascinating look at the underlying issues that strained the alliance during the first two decades of the Cold War. Building on existing historiography regarding the allies' different strategic visions during this period, Engel develops a fascinating new approach by demonstrating how conflicts over aviation policy illuminate these differences. Employing an impressive array of archival research, the author details how the allies endured a number of potentially serious disagreements regarding the diffusion of aviation technology. While Engel may overestimate the damage that these disputes had on the alliance, as no real crises developed from the cases he explores, he does an exceptional job of showing how important airpower was in the conflicting worldviews of the two great English-speaking powers.
— Daniel C. Williamson

Diplomatic History

Cold War at 30,000 Feet stands out as one of a handful of books on the diplomacy of commercial aviation and as one of the few that emphasize the fierce competition between the United States and Great Britain in the early Cold War. Its narrower chronological focus, in particular, sets it apart from its closest historiographical cousin, Alan Dobson's Peaceful Air Warfare… Engel's book asks interesting questions, offers new and thorough research, and is a compelling read.
— Jeff Woods

The Journal of American History
Jeffrey A. Engel’s book is a fascinating read, especially for those who maintain that international relations are defined by “high politics” (as in global alliances and security issues) that take precedent over “low politics” (such as financial and trade issues). In examining Anglo-American differences over the trade in aeronautics (engines and aircraft), Engel shows just how much low politics mattered—and how they could be defining moments of high politics when international relations collided with economic and trade interests...Cold War at 30,000 Feet is an important addition to our understanding of the Cold War.
— Marc Dierikx
Journal of American History

Jeffrey A. Engel's book is a fascinating read, especially for those who maintain that international relations are defined by 'high politics' (as in global alliances and security issues) that take precedent over 'low politics' (such as financial and trade issues). In examining Anglo–American differences over the trade in aeronautics (engines and aircraft), Engel shows just how much low politics mattered—and how they could be defining moments of high politics when international relations collided with economic and trade interests… Cold War at 30,000 Feet is an important addition to our understanding of the Cold War.
— Marc Dierikx

Alan P. Dobson
An impressive work that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the Cold War and Anglo–American relations. Engel's view of the conflict and cooperation between the United States and Britain adds considerable nuance to existing interpretations, especially with the British skullduggery over Viscount sales to the People's Republic of China. This was a delight to read.
Thomas W. Zeiler
An excellent, ambitious book. I know of no other work that uses aviation to explore the Special Relationship. Engel is a superb writer, with a keen sense of the drama of his story and an ability to make the topic come alive.
Richard S. Kirkendall
This brilliant book contributes to both the history of the airplane industry and Cold War history. Great Britain and the United States competed for supremacy and clashed over sales in the industry as leaders in each nation believed they alone knew how to strike the proper balance between the demands of security and the needs of commerce. It is a fascinating and important story, and Engel tells it well.
Richard H. Immerman
A story of power and conflict brilliantly told. Engel reveals in unprecedented detail the bitter Anglo–American discord over policies to control the sale of the most technologically advanced aircraft of the Atomic Age. This book will change our perspective on the Cold War.
Walter A. McDougall
Despite their strategic special relationship, cooperation between the British and Americans masked a fierce rivalry for air power after World War II. This thorough yet fast-paced narrative is not only a rich contribution to Cold War history, but a timely reminder about the limits to globalization in a world where hard power still matters, even among 'friends.'
The Atlantic
This book recounts Britain's challenge to American hegemony in the production of airliners during the years after the Second World War. Ho hum, you'd think. But with a cast of colorful characters—among them Ernest Bevin, Dean Acheson, and John Maynard Keynes—and acute glimpses into how things worked in postwar Washington, this chronicle of an intense commercial struggle gives readers a fascinating glimpse into a forgotten cranny of history.
American Historical Review - Daniel C. Williamson
Jeffrey A. Engel's study of Anglo–American rivalry in aviation provides a fascinating look at the underlying issues that strained the alliance during the first two decades of the Cold War. Building on existing historiography regarding the allies' different strategic visions during this period, Engel develops a fascinating new approach by demonstrating how conflicts over aviation policy illuminate these differences. Employing an impressive array of archival research, the author details how the allies endured a number of potentially serious disagreements regarding the diffusion of aviation technology. While Engel may overestimate the damage that these disputes had on the alliance, as no real crises developed from the cases he explores, he does an exceptional job of showing how important airpower was in the conflicting worldviews of the two great English-speaking powers.
Diplomatic History - Jeff Woods
Cold War at 30,000 Feet stands out as one of a handful of books on the diplomacy of commercial aviation and as one of the few that emphasize the fierce competition between the United States and Great Britain in the early Cold War. Its narrower chronological focus, in particular, sets it apart from its closest historiographical cousin, Alan Dobson's Peaceful Air Warfare… Engel's book asks interesting questions, offers new and thorough research, and is a compelling read.
Journal of American History - Marc Dierikx
Jeffrey A. Engel's book is a fascinating read, especially for those who maintain that international relations are defined by 'high politics' (as in global alliances and security issues) that take precedent over 'low politics' (such as financial and trade issues). In examining Anglo–American differences over the trade in aeronautics (engines and aircraft), Engel shows just how much low politics mattered—and how they could be defining moments of high politics when international relations collided with economic and trade interests… Cold War at 30,000 Feet is an important addition to our understanding of the Cold War.
American Historical Review
Jeffrey A. Engel’s study of Anglo-American rivalry in aviation provides a fascinating look at the underlying issues that strained the alliance during the first two decades of the Cold War. Building on existing historiography regarding the allies’ different strategic visions during this period, Engel develops a fascinating new approach by demonstrating how conflicts over aviation policy illuminate these differences. Employing an impressive array of archival research, the author details how the allies endured a number of potentially serious disagreements regarding the diffusion of aviation technology. While Engel may overestimate the damage that these disputes had on the alliance, as no real crises developed from the cases he explores, he does an exceptional job of showing how important airpower was in the conflicting worldviews of the two great English-speaking powers.
— Daniel C. Williamson
Diplomatic History
Cold War at 30,000 Feet stands out as one of a handful of books on the diplomacy of commercial aviation and as one of the few that emphasize the fierce competition between the United States and Great Britain in the early Cold War. Its narrower chronological focus, in particular, sets it apart from its closest historiographical cousin, Alan Dobson’s Peaceful Air Warfare...Engel’s book asks interesting questions, offers new and thorough research, and is a compelling read.
— Jeff Woods
Publishers Weekly

The "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain did not extend to aircraft development during the Cold War, contends Engel in this thoroughly researched, well-reasoned case study. He presents aircraft technology as a critical area of competition between a rising superpower with prodigious production capacity and a state seeking to establish a lead in quality. Underlying this contest was an ideological tension between American commitment to free market competition and British movement toward a managed economy. In an emerging Cold War, the answer was complicated by the conflicting demands of security and sales. Corporations sought to distribute their products as widely as possible, while governments feared losing ground in the technological competition. Rigid control of exports, however, risked crippling the infant jet aircraft industry. Engel describes a series of policy conflicts that, through the 1960s, repeatedly, and seriously, shook the Anglo-American relationship. Britain consistently took "astounding" risks with its American relationship, while the U.S. judged its intimate ally by its acceptance of American security concerns. Yet both parties valued their relationship enough to stand together despite their differences over trade and security issues—a decision Engel considers cultural as well as political. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674024618
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey A. Engel is Associate Professor of History and Director of Presidential History Projects at Southern Methodist University.
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Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Arsenal of Democracy versus British Planning
  • 2. Selling Jets to Stalin
  • 3. Death by Nene
  • 4. Comet Dreams
  • 5. A Lead Lost
  • 6. Approaching China
  • 7. The Viscount Conspiracy
  • 8. Aviation on the New Frontier
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Archives, Manuscripts, and Private Interviews
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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