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Cold War: On the Brink of Apocalypse


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.


Course Syllabus

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 Dtente

Lecture 10   Revolution in the Third World and the End of Dtente

Lecture 11   The Arms Race and the Breakdown of Dtente

Lecture 12   The Reagan Offensive

Lecture 13   Gorbachev and the End of the Cold War

Lecture 14   Understanding the Cold War

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