History 4419:   The Cold War

Fall 2006

Thursdays, 3:30-6:00 pm

Dr. Elaine MacKinnon

Office: Rm 3222 TLC/E-mail address: emcclarn@westga.edu

The course will introduce students to the history of the Cold War from 1945 to 1991. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conclusion of the Cold War, we now have the opportunity to study this conflict as a finite historical period from beginning to end, and to use new documentary sources to study the viewpoints and perspectives of all the major participants. We will study the Cold War as a political, ideological, economic, cultural, and military contest on a global scale. This course has the following objectives and outcomes:

1) To assess critically the meaning of the term Cold War and its applicability to the global confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States after World War II 

2) To understand and assess critically the essential events, factors, and forces that contributed to the rise of the Cold War, that shaped how it was waged, and that helped bring about its end

3) To identify and understand the major events, "hot points," proxy wars, and crises that marked the evolution of the Cold War

4) To understand and assess critically the global scope and ramifications of the decades-long confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States

5) To understand the significance of the domestic impact of the Cold War in the Soviet Union and the United States; the ways in which the Cold War affected culture, society, the economy, and everyday life for Soviet and American citizens

6) To assess critically the issue of the inevitability and/or necessity of the Cold War, its costs, and its historic legacy

7) To understand the major interpretive issues and debates emerging from the study of the Cold War since 1945

Students will demonstrate their achievement of these outcomes through written examinations, essays, oral presentations, simulations, quizzes, in-class exercises and discussions.

The format for the course is a seminar, organized around weekly discussions of assigned readings, supplemented by informational and background lectures. In order for the class to succeed, everyone must be ready to discuss the texts and ask questions. This means that you must do the readings each week and be prepared to take part in class. The textbook will provide chronology, basic facts and historical background, while the supplemental readings will give you a deeper understanding of the Cold War and its impact on both Soviet and American societies.

Required Texts

All of the following are available for purchase in the campus bookstore.

Ronald E. Powaski, The Cold War: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991. Oxford University Press, 1998. Abbreviated in the syllabus as TEXT.

Kenneth M. Jensen, Editor, Origins of the Cold War: The Novikov, Kennan, and Roberts ‘Long Telegrams’ of 1946. United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993.

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1988.

Donald J. Raleigh, Russia’s Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby Boomers Talk About Their Lives. Indiana University Press, 2006.

Additional readings have been placed on library reserve. For some classes you have documents assigned which you can access via the given web addresses.


Mid-term Exam: 30%

Final Exam: 30%

Research Essay: 20%

Oral Presentation: 10%

Class Simulation: 5%

Class Participation, In-class Writing Assignments/Response Papers: 5%

I. Grading--Examinations

There will be two examinations, a midterm and a final. These may consist of any or all of the following: identification questions (write a detailed paragraph explaining the significance of specific terms or explaining the connection between two terms), map questions, document analysis and short-answer questions, and essays. The final will not be comprehensive, but the essays may ask you to reflect on the entire course and/or the legacy of the Cold War.

II. Grading--Written Assignments:

You will have both formal and informal writing assignments.

1). Each student will write a 10-12 page research essay, typed with one-inch margins and either 10-point or 12-point font. You may choose one of the essay topics listed on the last page of the syllabus or consult with the instructor. Topics must be selected by September 7. You are expected to use at least four books and one article from a scholarly journal. Examples of scholarly journals useful for studying the Cold War include Journal of Cold War Studies, Cold War History, Diplomatic History, Europe-Asia Studies, Political Science Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, and more. 

Late papers will be penalized 10 points for each day late. Each paper should be at least ten pages in length, typewritten and doublespaced, exclusive of endnotes and bibliography (works cited) page. The standard guide of the history department is Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 5th edition, or The Chicago Manual of Style, available in the reference section of the bookstore and of the library; in addition, the library has copies on permanent reserve--ask at the circulation desk.

You will be graded for both content and style. Each paper should have a concrete thesis; an introduction that states your purpose, what questions you will address and what methodology you will use; a body that develops your argument/thesis in an orderly sequence; and a conclusion that is not just a restating of the topic, but that sums up your argument and explains what you have discovered. Factual material should be clearly presented and relative to the theme of the paper. You need to put forward your own ideas based on reading and research. Do not pour out everything you have gathered; select the facts which best explain, illustrate, or substantiate your points. You should include in your body discussion of the historiographical debates connected with your theme. You may want to critically engage a particular author’s view on a topic and present your own view. Credit direct quotations of ideas or data of others in endnotes at the back of the paper (or in footnotes at the bottom of the page).

Errors in logic or fact, errors in mechanics (grammar, spelling, and punctuation) and general messiness will lower your grade. Avoid slang or sloppy constructions. Learning how to express your thoughts in a clear and logical manner is an invaluable skill.


Start Early! Be sure to keep a copy for your files.

PLEASE NOTE: Computer glitches do not excuse you from the established deadlines.

You will be asked to present progress reports on designated dates in the syllabus. The first progress report requires a one to two page annotated bibliography. The second report requires a statement of your argument, and a detailed outline. Failure to turn in the required progress reports could lower your grade. If time permits during the last class meeting, then each student will present orally to the class a synopsis of his or her research. If you have any problems or questions regarding the writing of essays and reports, please see me or make use of the excellent University Writing Center. I will be happy to examine rough drafts (submitted at least two weeks prior to due date) and offer comments. 

The final draft of the research essay is due by 3:30 pm. on November 30.

2) Each student will deliver orally in class a five-to-ten minute presentation analyzing the impact of the Cold War on popular culture. You will select a film, a novel, a piece of music, a comic strip, artwork, etc., and discuss the ways in which this item of popular culture reflects or refracts the Cold War. In what ways does this film, novel, etc. reveal Cold War fears, tensions, and influences? Was this influence conscious or unconscious? What was the purpose of the creator, writer, etc.? Did the object of analysis play a role in the Cold War? Everyone will make their presentation in class on October 19; also on this date each student must turn in a one-to-two page typed summary of the presentation, with one-inch margins and either 10-point or 12-point font.

3) Every student will take part in a class simulation exercise scheduled for November 9. The class will be divided up into groups focused around a fictional crisis point in the Cold War which will require negotiation to resolve conflict. You will be assigned to a group representing a specific country, an international organization, or a political faction and will be responsible for turning in a two-to-three page written report outlining your group’s position, concerns, and agenda for the negotiations. Your grade will be based upon both your written report and your participation in the class exercise. You will be expected to ground your written and oral statements in the historical context of the Cold War and actual scenarios of Soviet-American tensions and interventions across the globe.

Additional information and reading assignments for the simulation will be provided for you in future classes.

III. Grading--Class Participation

You should take part in class discussions, ask questions, and be present for in-class writing assignments. The more you participate, the more you will learn, and the more likely it will go in your favor if you are in a borderline grading situation.

Included in class participation are in-class writing assignments, unannounced quizzes and response papers on the assigned supplemental readings.


Students are expected to have completed the assigned readings in advance of each class session and to be able to discuss them. Some of the readings are lengthy, so plan ahead and budget your time accordingly. Try not to fall behind! All written assignments are due on the specified date; unexcused late work will lower the grade by one grade level for each late weekday.

Cheating Policy and Plagiarism: 

Anyone caught cheating or helping someone to cheat will be asked to leave the class and will receive a course grade of "F." Plagiarism, or claiming someone else's work as your own, will result in failure. This rule is in effect for all assignments, examinations, quizzes, and extra credit work. 

Every student is expected to understand and to comply with the University of West Georgia’s policies on Academic Honor and Academic Dishonesty. They may be found in the Student Handbook, on the web at http://www.westga.edu/documents/catalogs.php.


Make every effort to be in class and on time. You are responsible for all materials and announcements presented in class. If you must be absent, be sure to get the notes from a classmate. More than one unexcused absence will affect your final grade. More than two may lead to a W/F. Absences due to illness or school business will be excused if you bring me a written note. Being late to class (arriving after roll has been taken) or leaving class early will also lower your grade. Two tardies will count as one unexcused absence, and the same for leaving early. If you are tardy, it is your responsibility to inform me of your presence at the end of class. If you are habitually late, you will be asked to leave. Regular attendance and punctuality will enhance your learning experience and can work in your favor in borderline grading situations (or against you, if not maintained). Missed quizzes cannot be made up, so repeated absences can bring down your class participation grade.

Cell phones, pagers, headphones, and all other electronic devices must be turned off during class. The instructor will confiscate such items.

Office Hours:

My office is Room 3222 in the TLC Building and the hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 am–2:00 pm or by appointment. My office phone number is 678-839-6048. Please see me if you have questions or concerns with any part of the course.


Tentative Course Outline and Readings Schedule

August 17: Introduction to the Cold War/Ideological Roots

Text, Introduction and Chapter 1

August 24: Origins of the Cold War in Europe and Asia, 1917-1950

Text, Chapter 2

Documents: "Nazi Invasion of the Soviet Union June 1941; "Report of the Interim Committee on Military Use of the Atomic Bomb May 31, 1945"; "Notes on the Discussion Between I.V. Kurchatov and Stalin"-–handout

August 31: Debate–Who Started the Cold War/Cold War Hotspots, 1948-1953

Jensen, Origins of the Cold War, all

Text, Chapter 3, pp. 65-84

September 7: From Containment to Brinkmanship: Cold War Policies and Strategies in the 1950s

Text, Chapter 3, pp. 85-96 and Chapter 4, all

Documents: "National Security Paper 68 April 1950," handout

***Deadline for Determining Research Paper Topic

September 14: The Cuban Missile Crisis and its Impact

Text, Chapter 5, pp. 135-146


"Telegram from Soviet Ambassador to the USA Dobrynin to the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs," 10/24/62, accessible through the Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id+1409&fuseaction+v... (or go to website for Cold War International History Project, click on Virtual Archive, then click on link The Cuban Missile Crisis)

"Telegram from Soviet Ambassador to the US Dobrynin to the USSR Foreign Ministry" accessible through the Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive, http:www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id+1409&fuseaction+v... (click on link The Cuban Missile Crisis)

"Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," accessible through the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawwev/avalon/diplomacy/soviet/sov003.htm

September 21: The Global Cold War, 1945-1969: Imperial Motives and Parameters

***Reserve Reading: Odd Arne Westad, "The Empire of Liberty: American Ideology and Foreign Interventions," pp. 3-38 and "The Empire of Justice: Soviet Ideology and Foreign Interventions," pp. 39-72

***PLEASE NOTE: By September 21 you need to have approved by the instructor the item of popular culture you will be analyzing for your oral presentation

September 28: The Global Cold War: Flashpoints 1945-1969

Chapter 5, pp. 146-166

***Annotated Bibliography for Research Paper Due

October 5: Midterm Examination

October 12: Domestic Containment: Cold War and American Culture

Elaine May, Homeward Bound, all

October 19: The Cold War and Popular Culture

***Oral Presentations/Written Summaries due

October 26: The Rise and Fall of Détente: From Nixon to Afghanistan

Text, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7


"Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Outbreak of Nuclear War Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics–September 30, 1971, accessible through the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/soviet/sov001.htm

November 2: Cold War II: From Afghanistan to Gorbachev

Text, Chapter 8

***Thesis Statement and Detailed Outline Due November 2

November 9: Class Simulation: A Cold War Crisis Point

Reading Assignments TBA/Written report due

November 16: The Cold War and the Soviet Union

Raleigh, Russia’s Sputnik Generation, all


November 30: The End of the Cold War/Legacies of the Cold War

Text, Chapter 9 and Conclusion


"Georgy Shakhnazarov’s Preparatory Notes for Mikhail Gorbachev for the Meeting of the Politburo," accessible through the Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1409&fuseactionfiltered=v... (click on link, End of the Cold War)

"Excerpts from Anatoly Chernyaev’s Diary," 10/28/1988 and 11/10/1989, accessible through the Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1409&fuseactionfiltered=v... (click on link, End of the Cold War)


FINAL EXAMINATION: December 7, 3:30-6:00 pm


General Topics for Research Paper

Origins of the Cold War (Economic, Political, Ideological, Historical)

Role of Personality in the Origins of the Cold War

The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War

The History and Impact of the Berlin Air Lift

Significance of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan

Biographical Studies of Key Figures in the Cold War (Stalin, Truman, Eisenhower, Khrushchev, Kennedy, Kissinger, Nixon, Carter, Brezhnev, Reagan, Gorbachev)

The Cultural Impact of the Cold War (literature, film, popular culture)

The Cold War and Religion in the United States

Impact of the Cold War on Science and Technology

The Berlin Wall and Its Role in the Cold War

The Significance of Berlin for the Cold War

NATO and the Warsaw Pact

McCarthy and Anti-Communism in the United States

Causes and Impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis

History of the Arms Race and Arms Control

Role of Intelligence and Espionage in the Cold War

Factors Leading to the End of the Cold War

The Origins and Impact of the Korean War

Cold War and American Policy in Vietnam

Split between China and the USSR and Its Significance for the Cold War

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and Their Significance

Rise and Fall of Detente

Cold War and Africa

Cold War and Latin America

Cold War and Asia

Cold War and US Policy in Latin America

Origins and Significance of the War in Afghanistan (1979-1989)

Inevitability of the Cold War

Legacy of the Cold War

I encourage each student to meet with me and discuss your topic. If you want to develop a topic other than these listed, you must speak with me about it.