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The Cold War: Tales and Takeaways

The Cold War—a struggle for global dominance—concluded without a shot ever directly exchanged between its two great protagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union. Yet it was as seismic a conflict as the two bloody world wars that preceded it, and its impact will continue to shape events for generations to come: China’s rise (some would say “return”) to global preeminence can be straight-lined from the Cold War, while much of today’s upheaval in the Middle East and elsewhere cannot be accounted without reference to it. And the Cold War’s influence can be seen far from the realm of politics, reaching deeply into technology, culture, and even language. But questions about the Cold War—some of them very basic—remain more than 25 years since it ostensibly ended: Why did it start? When did it start? Is it over? Was it a struggle of military might and economic power, or was it a contest of values? Who gained the most from it, which is a very different question from who won it? We will review these and other questions using contemporary and current sources from both the American and Soviet/Russian sides, trying to see where perceptions about the Cold War end and truth about it begins.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • Tools to judge the struggle from the varying perspectives of those who fought it, and may still be fighting it
  • An understanding of the far reach of the Cold War into politics and economics, as well as into culture and daily life

Ideal for

  • Students of 20th- and 21st-century history
  • Those seeking context for analyzing the new US president’s approach to the largest contenders for global influence
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.