History 5419

 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, quizzes, in-class simulations and writing 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 and ask questions. This means that you must do the readings each week and be prepared to take part in class.

Required Texts

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

Martin McCauley, The Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1949. Third Edition. Pearson-Longman, 2003.

Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy 1958-1964. W.W. Norton and Company, 1997.

*alternatively, in place of the Fursenko and Naftali text, you may read Max Frankel, High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ballantine Books, 2005.

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.

The following reading will be given to you in class.

Elaine McClarnand and Steven Goodson, editors, The Impact of the Cold War on American Popular Culture. Studies in the Social Sciences. Vol. XXXVI (May 1999).

Note: To hold down costs, I am not requiring you to purchase a textbook for the course. But I do recommend that you either find a low-cost survey of the Cold War (either through Amazon or inter-library loan) or you make use of the textbooks I have put on reserve. It is useful to have a chronological survey of the Cold War to follow along with as we go through the course.

Additional Readings have been placed upon reserve or are available through Ingram Library’s databases Jstor or Project Muse, as noted on the syllabus.


Final Exam: 35%

Historiographical Essay: 35%

Book Response Paper/Analyses: 15%

Class Simulation: 10%

Class Leadership and Participation, In-Class Writing Assignments: 5 %

I. Grading--Examinations

There will be one examination, a take-home final. It will consist of the following: identification questions (write a detailed paragraph explaining the meaning of significance of individual terms; explain the connection between two terms; document analysis questions;and essays.

II. Grading--Written Assignments:

You will have both formal and informal writing assignments.

1) Each student will write an 15-20 page historiographical review essay examining at least four books (excluding those required for the course) and one journal article (excluding those assigned for the course) on a specific topic of debate and discussion in Cold War history. For a list of possible topics, see the last page of the syllabus. 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. 

You will choose four books to read, with my approval, each of which must deal with the same topic. The point of the paper is to assess the historiography of a specific issue and compare/contrast the arguments of your authors. You will contrast and critique the content, style, methodology, etc. of the books. As background, you will need to discuss the historical issue treated by the books in addition to evaluating their specific presentation of that issue. You must select the four books and have them approved by me no later than September 21.

Questions to consider include: How do the approaches or methodologies of the authors differ; can you detect distinct biases in each; how are primary sources used? What archival work has been done by the authors? How effective is the argumentation? Which book is most useful for understanding Cold War history and the specific issue in question? What can be concluded definitively about the issue or problem being treated? Is there any consensus among the authors; if different, are the conclusions in opposition to each other?

Late papers will be penalized 10 points for each day late. Each paper should be at least 15 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. 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. DO NOT USE CONTRACTIONS. 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.

I will ask you to submit periodic progress reports. 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 historiographical essay is due by 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 30, 2006.

2) You are to write three 2 to 3 page, typed response-analysis papers evaluating three of the four assigned books.

You should evaluate the assigned books in terms of their argument, research base, and contribution to the field of Cold War studies. Provide a brief overview of the contents (an analytical summary, not a retelling of the story), explain the historical context, the main purpose or theme, and then analyze the significance of the reading for understanding the history of the Cold War. What is the major thesis of the book? Does the author or authors make a convincing argument? What methodological tools does the author or authors employ? What sources do they use? What do you learn from the work? Do you agree with the conclusions of the author? Why or why not?

After evaluating the work as an historical source, you should record your own individual reactions to the reading. What have you gained from reading this book? What do you find to be most significant or most striking about the reading? Would you recommend that this book continue to be assigned in a course examining the Cold War?

Note: for the Raleigh work on Russia’s Sputnik generation, you should evaluate the use of oral history in studying the Cold War. For this book you would ask yourself different questions. How effective is the book as a type of oral history? Is this approach useful? What dimensions of the Cold War are brought out in these interviews? How do they enlighten us as to the impact of the Cold War on Soviet society? How can individual experiences contribute to an understanding of historical development during the Cold War? What similarities do you see between the domestic Cold War in the United States and in the Soviet Union? What differences do you see?

The Response-analysis papers are due on the dates the readings are assigned.

3). You 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 one-to-two 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 readings will be provided for you in future classes concerning the simulation.

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 reserve and supplemental readings.

Be prepared to share information and conclusions from your M.A. readings with the rest of the class.

***Please Note: Graduate Students will meet outside of class with the instructor to discuss readings, either on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. These meetings are mandatory. The meeting times will be worked out during the first week of class depending on student schedules.


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

Edward Crapol, "Some Reflections on the Historiography of the Cold War," The History Teacher, Vol. 20, No. 2 (February 1987), pp. 251-262

Melvin P. Leffler, "The Cold War: What Do ‘We Now Know’?", The American Historical Review, Vol. 104, No. 2 (April 1999), pp. 501-524

These articles can be accessed through J-Stor (go to Ingram Library home page and under Find Information, click on Articles, then Databases, then write in Jstor in the search box. Click on Jstor and then do a search for the article. Please contact me if you have any problems accessing this article.

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

McCauley, The Origins of the Cold War, pp. 3-68

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

McCauley, The Origins of the Cold War, pp. 69-139

***Response-analysis paper due

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

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

***Reserve Readings:

John L. Gaddis, "NSC-68 and the Korean War," in John L. Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War, Revised and Expanded Edition, pp. 87-124

Chris Tudda, "Reenacting the Story of Tantalus: Eisenhower, Dulles, and the Failed Rhetoric of Liberation," Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Fall 2005), pp. 3-35

The Tudda article can be accessed through Project Muse (go to Ingram Library home page and under Find Information, click on Articles (or Journal Locator), then Databases, then write in Project Muse in the search box. Click on Project Muse and then do a search for the journal, Journal of Cold War Studies. Click on the specific volume and issue, then click on the title link. Please contact me if you have any problems accessing this article.

September 14: The Cuban Missile Crisis and its Impact

Fursenko and Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble," all or Frankel, High Noon, all

***Response-analysis paper due

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

***Reserve Readings:

Odd Arne Westad, "The Empire of Liberty: American Ideology and Foreign Interventions," in Westad, Odd Arne, The Global Cold War, pp. 3-38 and "The Empire of Justice: Soviet Ideology and Foreign Interventions,’ in same, pp. 39-72


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

Mark Bradley, "Slouching Toward Bethelem: Culture, Democracy and the Origins of the Cold War in Vietnam," in Christian G. Appy, editor, Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966. University of Massachusetts Press, 2000, pp. 11-34

Penny M. Von Eschen, "Who’s the Real Ambassador? Exploding Cold War Racial Ideology," in Cold War Constructions, pp. 110-131.

Available on reserve as electronic book from Ingram Library

October 5: Cold War and Science


***Reserve Reading:

Stuart W. Leslie, "Science and Politics in Cold War America," in Jacob, Margaret C., editor, The Politics of Western Science, 1640-1990, pp. 199-233


Daniel Lee Kleinman and Mark Solovey, "Hot Science/Cold War: The National Science Foundation After World War II," Radical History Review, No. 63, 1995, pp. 110-139

October 12: Domestic Containment: Cold War and American Culture

Elaine May, Homeward Bound, all

***Response-analysis paper due

October 19: The Cold War and Popular Culture

McClarnand and Goodson, The Impact of the Cold War on American Popular Culture, all

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

***Reserve Reading:

Odd Arne Westad, "The Fall of Détente and the Turning Tides of History," in Westad, Odd Arne, editor, The Fall of Detenté: Soviet American Relations During the Carter Years, pp. 3-33


"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

***Reserve Readings:

Beth Fischer, "The United States and the Transformation of the Cold War," in Njolstad, Olav, editor, The Last Decade of the Cold War: From Conflict Escalation to Conflict Transformation, pp. 226-240

Odd Arne Westad, "Reagan’s Anti-Revolutionary Offensives in the Third World," in Olav, The Last Decade of the Cold War, pp. 240-262

November 9: Simulation: A Cold War Crisis Point

Readings to be assigned later

***Written report due

November 16: The Cold War and the Soviet Union

Raleigh, Russia’s Sputnik Generation, all

***Response-analysis paper due


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

Jeremi Suri, "Explaining the End of the Cold War: A New Historical Consensus?," Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Fall 2002), pp. 60-92

Available on-line through Project Muse

Melvyn P. Leffler, "Inside Enemy Archives: The Cold War Reopened," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, no. 4 (July/August 1996), pp. 120-136

Available on-line through Ingram Library Proquest


"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)


TAKE-HOME FINAL EXAMINATION DUE: No later than December 7, 2006 at 6:00 pm


Topics for Historiographical Essay

Choose from one of the following, or discuss your own idea with the instructor. Remember that this is not a research paper; it is an examination of existing historical literature on a specific topic under dispute by historians

Origins of the Cold War

Cold War and Popular Culture

Cold War and Science

Cold War and Religion

Cuban Missile Crisis: Causes and Consequences

Weapons Race and Arms Control

Role of Intelligence and Espionage in the Cold War

Factors Leading to the End of the Cold War

Cold War and the Beginnings of the Korean War

Cold War and American Policy in Vietnam

Split between China and the USSR

Cold War and Africa

Cold War and Latin America

Cold War and Asia

Alternative Project

You may work with the instructor to design an oral history project concerning the Cold War. Please meet with the instructor as soon as possible to map out the project.