The devastating US atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only brought World War II to an end, but effectively gave birth to the Cold War. The postwar world would thereafter be marked by the fragile relationship of two superpowers with opposing ideologies: the United States and the Soviet Union.
For forty-five years, these two superpowers would vie for supremacy in world politics. The Cold War, defined by events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, turmoil in the Third World, and the arms race, held the potential for an apocalyptic confrontation that could have spelled doom for the human race. Understanding the Cold War, with all of its far-reaching, global implications, is absolutely essential to our understanding of the history of the second half of the twentieth century and beyond.
David S. Painter teaches international history in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His publications include Oil and the American Century: The Political Economy of US Foreign Oil Policy, 1941–1954; Origins of the Cold War: An International History.
Lecture 1 Hiroshima and the Origins of the Cold War
Lecture 2 The Superpowers and the World in 1945
Lecture 3 The Struggle for Europe
Lecture 4 Globalizing the Cold War
Lecture 5 The Korean War and Changing Power Balances
Lecture 6 Turmoil in the Third World
Lecture 7 The Cuban Missile Crisis
Lecture 8 The Turbulent 1960s
Lecture 9 Origins of Détente
Lecture 10 Revolution in the Third World and the End of Détente
Lecture 11 The Arms Race and the Breakdown of Détente
Lecture 12 The Reagan Offensive
Lecture 13 Gorbachev and the End of the Cold War
Lecture 14 Understanding the Cold War