Few “moments” in America’s historical experience have generated the intensely spirited and emotionally-charged debates as has the “Cold War” (even the question of whether or not the “Cold War” constitutes a distinct historic “moment” is now contested). As a consequence, few moments have generated the volume and diversity of literature. This literature encompasses changing political leaders and systems; nations and regions; state and non-state actors; mass and elite cultures; economics and ideology; men and women; machines, and technology; the very rich and the very poor; genocide and ecocide; and more. Historians ask questions about when the Cold War began; who or what was responsible; why it ended, when it ended, and whether it could have ended earlier; and for what reasons and to what extend did it envelope the globe–East/West, North/South; Core/Periphery. They assess the instruments used, and the consequences for both the principals and the “innocents.” They don’t agree on much. Indeed, they even disagree about whether there was a winner or everyone lost, and about whether the Cold War was “good,” “bad,” or simply “ugly.” Events subsequent to the “Cold War” (the Balkans, Africa, the Global War on Terror, the “Arab Spring,” etc.) suggest that John Gaddis may well have been more prescient than he imagined when he relabeled it the “Long Peace.”

Because of the lack of consensus on virtually every fundamental question pertaining to the Cold War, historians were as surprised by its abrupt and peaceful conclusion as were policymakers (not to mention political scientists/IR theorists who claim the capability to predict the future). And they are no more of a single mind as to the causes of termination as to the causes of conception. Many scholars, as a result, have felt compelled to revisit the historical landscape and reexamine premises and arguments, including their own. In doing so they have benefited from the release of archives once considered forever out of reach: from the NSC and CIA, from Moscow and Beijing, from throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltic, and from elsewhere around the world. Indeed, the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) in Washington exists exclusively for the purpose of locating and disseminating (largely through the National Security Archive and the Digital National Security Archive) such documents (selective as they may be—a problem we will discuss). The CWIHP now envelops as well the Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security (formerly the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact). Then of course there are old standbys like the Department of State Electronic Reading Room, the CIA’s Electronic Reading Room , Declassified Documents Reference System and even the Foreign Relations of the United States(FRUS) series, which is now publishing volumes like gangbusters and digitized to boot. And these are just the online sources. Whether by unlocking such documents the end of the Cold War will allow for achieving a “new orthodoxy” on its history is a question only future generations scholars can answer–if there is an answer.

The purpose of this course is to identify the questions that bedevil historians of the Cold War, and by reading competing interpretations, evaluate the strategies and methodologies by which historians (and even some non-historians) address them. Hence I have assigned a spectrum of scholarship covering a range of issues that reflect a range of approaches. For obvious reasons our coverage cannot be exhaustive. I am confident, nevertheless, that through the readings and the discussions we will touch on a more than credible proportion of the salient issues. Moreover, to the extent practicable I have incorporated into the syllabus the most recent literature while taking care not to sacrifice (all) the older works that remain essential. In history as in life, there is a grave danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

My method for achieving my (our) goals is as simple as it is complex. Next week, September 6, we will discuss the essays in Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations. Collectively, the contributions to this important volume (we are reading the third, revised, and very recently published edition) represent neither a manual or recipe book. But by illustrating and assessing multiple methods and frameworks, they should stimulate your own thinking–and imagination–about what has, should, can, and will be written. Tonight I will assign each of you one of these “think pieces,” about which you will prepare a no more than five (5) minute oral presentation at our next—I repeat for emphasis, September 6–meeting. You will not summarize the piece; we all will have read it. Rather, you will succinctly identify and evaluate the pros and cons of the author’s diagnoses and prescriptions, and suggest what (if any) subject areas you might recommend as appropriate for the type of approach s/he advocates. Time won’t permit us to explore fully this rich volume.  We will have multiple opportunities, however, to return to these essays over the subsequent weeks, however.

Our collective adventure in the cold war begins “for real” the following week, September 13. Commencing with this class and extending to the semester’s end, each of you (except for this sessions presenters and commentators, as explained later in the next paragraph) will write a one-page (300-or so word) review of the assigned reading (consult the guide  to writing a book review available on this course’s website) for that week. To save both trees and your eyesight (no one should be subjected to my penmanship), please submit your review to me electronically prior to class–4 pm will work nicely. You should also come to class prepared to vote thumbs up or down on the book and provide a one minute rationale. I will ask everyone for this oral “review” each week as a warm-up exercise.

Indeed, once we have completed the warm-up the fun will begin in earnest. Depending on class enrollment, either two, three or four of you will read, in addition to the book assigned to everyone, another book listed on the syllabus that week (you will make your choices, with my help, tonight). In other words, each class two, three or four of you will read two books. These select students will not be required to write the one-page review of the class reading for that week (although reading, summarizing, and “voting” on it will remain a requirement. S/he will be required to write a 1000-word (about three double-spaced pages) critical review of the selected book (juxtaposing/comparing it, when appropriate, to the one we all read and any other works that come to mind). Please be sure to check Paley Library  for the book you will review as soon as possible. Should it not be available, I not own a copy, and you not be able to obtain it through E-ZBorrow or find it at another library, I will substitute an alternative title. But you will need time to read it! For your information, each of you will be one of the “chosen” three or for times during the semester (again, depending on enrollment.

These reviews will be the basis for an approximately fifteen (15) minute oral presentation  to the class. These oral presentations will provide the opportunity to supplement the written review with illustrations/examples, to expand up the written review’s criticisms and arguments, to situate the work in historiographic context, and and otherwise add value. Keep in mind that the guide I have posted on our course website on how to write a book review is a general, generic source—nothing more. Feel free to follow your own instincts, as long as you don’t end up writing a book report. The only other proscriptions concern misspellings, mistakes in grammar and punctuation, and the use of the passive voice.  Copies of this and all future reviews should be made for each class member (and me) by electronic (email) attachment (Please don’t bring me a hard-copy.) You must at the very, very latest send that email with the review attached by 5 pm of the Monday  immediately prior to your oral presentation on Tuesday. I’ve  set up this course up on Blackboard to facilitate communication  and ensure that the reviews will be available for everyone to read online

The distribution and deadline are particularly critical for the week’s designated “commentators.” What this means is that, similar to the convention at scholarly meetings, commentators will take ten (10) minutes orally to analyze critically the review, collegially and professionally pointing out the strengths and weaknesses (of both the review and the book) and posing questions about the subject matter, arguments, sources, methodology, etc. Because s/he probably has not and will not (and need not) read the works under review, I will, if and when necessary, inject points of information and clarification. That said, as historians-in-training you should be able to identify key questions, gaps, etc. based on your understandings of the nature of the subject. That’s what we do, While you need not write down your commentary, I do recommend that you prepare an outline or otherwise organize your thoughts. Winging your commentary as you go through the review is normatively ineffective. During today’s session we will assign a commentator for each book as well as those “chosen” to review it.

Further information and clarification will be provided during the Q&A  portion of the “panel” that will follow the presentations (again congruent with scholarly sessions). The “audience” (class) will be well informed because you all will have read the generally assigned book and written the one-page review of it. Further, as I write in the paragraph  above, you will be able to draw upon you historical imagination, which  will mature commensurate with the semester’s progress.

To ensure that your eye remains on the donut, not the hole, I will grade all reviews “only” “excellent,” “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” (“X+,” X,” or “X -“). Needless to say, failure to submit reviews on time will adversely affect the quality of the commentaries and general discussion; I will therefore penalize with extreme prejudice such behavior. Everyone in the class should be primed to refer to the assigned book early and often. I will grade the commentaries in a parallel fashion.

The final assignment will be a comparative review of FOUR BOOKS (excluding those already reviewed in class) and TWO ARTICLES. It should run TWELVE to FIFTEEN double-spaced pages. The selections should, of course, be related to one another in some manner, and I encourage you to base your choices on a theme, topic, or even individual that interests/engages you and/or is valuable for your personal areas of research. As part of the assignment I want you to write a one-paragraph explanation of your choice of topic (why you consider it historically significant; what questions excite you) and compile a list of six books and four articles that you consider appropriate. To develop the list use on-line data bases, bibliographies, historiographic essays, footnotes from related works, or my “Big Ol’ Bibliography” (of only books) that appears on this course’s website. Of course, feel free to use any other means as well–just as you would if I asked you to prepare a research paper. I will evaluate your list and together we will pare it down to four books. (Edited collections are fine, but let’s discuss the best way to use them).

I will want you to submit to me in writing (again electronically) the explanation for your choice of topic and list of potential books and articles. Counting backward from the date the paper will be due, you should submit the explanation and list to me by 10 AM on Monday, October 28. That is because I will want to read it ahead of meeting with you, which must take place by Monday, November 11. In addition to discussing your final assignment, we will  go over your progress and performance in class. You will need to schedule an appointment with me, therefore, between October  28 and November 11. This schedule should give you ample time to write a terrific comparative review by 5 PM on Monday, December ??? (the first day of exam week).

As a normative guideline I will base your course grade on an even division between your written and oral work. I may reward exceptional performance in one area by giving it extra weight in my calculations, but don’t count on it. And FYI, as you might/should infer from this grading scheme, I am a fanatic when it comes to class participation. The success of any graduate course is contingent on the collective contributions of everyone. Accordingly, it should not be necessary for me to write that I expect 100% attendance at each and every session. If your absence is unavoidable, you must provide me with the reason–preferably before the class but, if that’s impossible, as soon afterward as you can.

If you are uncomfortable speaking out, foresee difficulties with my attendance policy, or for that matter have or develop any other concerns, see me sooner rather than later. Under any circumstances, I encourage you to drop by my office to speak with me often.

Required Readings (available at the TUCC Bookstore—also available by multiple online vendors, usually at a less expensive price. Be sure, nevertheless, to purchase the correct edition):

Frank Costigliola and Michael Hogan, , Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations (3rd ed., 2016)
Westad, Odd Arne, The Global Cold War: Third World Intervention and the Making of Our Times
Gaddis, John Lewis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of National Security Policy During the Cold War (2nd ed., 2005)
Hixson, Walter, Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945-1961
Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War
De Grazia, Victoria, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe
Latham, Michael, The Right Kind of Revolution: Modernization, Development, and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Cold War to the Present
Dudziak, Mary, Cold War and Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy
Gavin, Francis, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age
Rabe, Stephen, The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America (2nd ed., 2015)
Jacobs, Matthew, Imagining the Middle East: The Building of an American Foreign Policy, 1918-1967
Lawrence, Mark, The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
Schmidt, Elizabeth, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror

Schedule of Sessions

August 30


September 6

Class Reading: Hogan/Paterson, Explaining U.S. Foreign Relations

Commentaries: Everyone

September 13

Class Reading: Westad, Global Cold War

Craig, Campbell and Fred Logevall, America’s Cold War: the Politics of Insecurity
Engerman, David, Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts
LaFeber, Walter, America, Russia, and the Cold War (most recent edition you can get your hands on—optimally, the 10th–2006)
Miscamble, Wilson D., From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War

September 20

Class Reading: Gaddis, Strategies of Containment

Bowie, Robert, and Richard Immerman, Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped an Enduring Cold War Strategy
Freedman, Lawrence, Kennedy’s Wars: Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam
Leffler, Melvyn, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War
Trachtenberg, Marc, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1964


September 27

Class Reading: Hixson, Parting the Curtain

Gienow-Hecht, Jessica, Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy In Postwar Germany, 1945-1955
Shibusawa, Naoko, America’s Geisha Ally: Reimagining the Japanese Enemy
Von Eschen, Penny, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War
Wagnleitner, Reinhold, Coca-Colonization and the Cold War: The Cultural Mission of the United States in Austria after the Second World War


October 4

Class Reading: Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War

Cumings, Bruce, Origins of the Korean War, vol. I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes, 1945-47
Masuda, Hajimu, Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World
Oyen, Meredith, The Diplomacy of Migration: Transnational Lives and the Making of U.S.-Chinese Relations in the Cold War.
Stueck, William, The Korean War: An International History

October 11

Class Reading: De Grazia, Irresistible Empire

Endy, Christopher, Cold War Holiday: American Tourism in France
Goedde, Petra, GIs and Germans: Culture, Gender, and Foreign Relations, 1945-1949 
Kuisel, Richard, The French Way: How France Embraced and Rejected American Values and Power 
Pells, Richard, Not Like UsHow Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture Since World War II


October 18

Class Reading: Latham, Right Kind of Revolution

Cullather, Nicholas, The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle Against Poverty in Asia
Ekbladh, David, Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order
Immerwahr, Daniel, Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development
Grubbs, Larry, Secular Missionaries: Americans and African Development in the 1960s

October 25

Class Reading: Dudziak, Cold War and Civil Rights

Anderson, Carol, Bourgeois Radicals: the NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960
Parker, Jason, Brother’s Keeper: The United States, Race, and Empire in the British Caribbean, 1937-1962
Plummer, Brenda, In Search of Power: African Americans in the Era of Decolonization
Vitalis, Robert, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations


October November 1

Class Reading: Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft

Heefner, Gretchen, The Missile Next Door: the Minuteman in the American Heartland
Jervis, Robert, The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon
Jones, Matthew, After Hiroshima: The United States, Race, and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945-1965
Maddock, Shane, Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for American Atomic Supremacy from World War II to the Present


November 8

Class Reading: Rabe, Killing Zone

Brands, Hal, Latin America’s Cold War
Grandin, Greg, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War
Harmer, Tanya, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War
Schmidli, William Michael, The Fate of Freedom Elsewhere: Human Rights and Cold War Policy toward Argentina


November 15

Class Reading: Jacobs,  Imagining the Middle East

Alvandi, Roham, Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: The United States and Iran in the Cold War
Chamberlin, Paul, The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order
Citino, Nathan.  From Arab Nationalism to OPEC:  Eisenhower, King Sa’ud, and the Making of US-Saudi Relations
Yaqub, Salim, Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East


November 22: Thanksgiving Break

November 29

Class Reading: Lawrence, Vietnam War

Bradley, Mark, Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam
Chapman, Jessica, Cauldron of Resistance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and 1950s Southern Vietnam
Miller, Edward, Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam
Nguyen, Lien-Hang, Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam


December 6

Class Reading: Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa

Connelly, Matthew, A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War World
Gleijeses, Piero, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976
Irwin, Ryan, Gordian KnotApartheid and the Unmaking of the Liberal World Order
Sargent, Daniel, A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s