Prelude to the Cold War: Ideology and Geopolitics 



  • Read: Carole K. Fink, Cold War: An International History (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2014). Read ch. 1, “Prelude: Soviet Russia and the West, 1917-1945,” pp. 5-26. 
  • Read: Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Read ch. 1, “The Empire of Liberty: American Ideology and Foreign Interventions,” pp. 8-38, and ch. 2, “The Empire of Justice: Soviet Ideology and Foreign Interventions,” pp. 39-72. 
  • View: “From Coalition to Rivalry: The Soviet Union and United States at the Beginning of the Cold War,” (discussion by Frank Costigliola, Melvyn P. Leffler, and Philip Zelikow), Council on Foreign Relations, 4 November 2014; available online

The United States 

  • Read: Charles A. Beard, “Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels: An Estimate of American Foreign Policy,” Harper’s Magazine 179 (September 1939): 337-351. 
  • Read: Henry R. Luce, “The American Century,” Life, 17 February 1941, pp. 61-66.
  • Read: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address on National Security, 29 December 1940; available online

The Soviet Union 

  • Read: excerpts from Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, State and Revolution (New York: International Publishers, 1932), pp. 1517, 1520, 1570-1575, and 7885; available online

Prelude to the Cold War: An Unconditional Surrender 



  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 2, “The Grand Alliance, 1941-1945,” pp. 27-52. 
  • Read: Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, vol. 1, Year of Decisions (Garden City: N.J.: Doubleday, 1955). Read chapter 26.
  • Read: Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992). Read the introduction, pp. 1-24.
  • Read: Frank Costigliola, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012). Read ch. 1, “A Portrait of Allies as Young Men,” pp. 21-57.

The Defeat of the Third Reich 

  • Read: German Act of Surrender, 8 May 1945; and Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority by the Allied Powers, 5 June 1945; in Documents on Germany, 1944-1961, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), pp. 11-17.

Origins of the Cold War: The United States 

  • Read: Winston Churchill, address at Westminster College, Mo., 5 March 1946; available online.
  • Read: Harry S. Truman, address before a Joint Session of Congress, 12 March 1947; available online
  • Read: George C. Marshall, address at Harvard University, 5 June 1947; available online
  • Read: X [George F. Kennan], “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” Foreign Affairs 25, no. 4 (July 1947): 566-582.

Origins of the Cold War: The Soviet Union 

  • Read: Cable from Nikolai Novikov, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., to the Soviet Leadership, 27 September 1946; in Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (AVP RF), f. 06. op. 8, p. 45, p. 759, published in Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn’ #11, 1990, p. 148-154, trans. Gary Goldberg. Available online

Optional Readings 

  • Optional Reading: John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War, rev. ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Read ch. 2, “George F. Kennan and the Strategy of Containment,” pp. 24-52.
  • Optional Reading: William I. Hitchcock, “The Marshall Plan and the Creation of the West,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. 1, Origins, ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 154-174. 

On the Precipice of World War III: Institutionalizing the Cold War 



  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 3, “Cold War, 1949-1952,” pp. 53-89. 

Alliance System and a Constructed Peace 

  • Read: The North Atlantic Treaty, Washington, D.C., 4 April 1949; available online
  • View: “Lessons Learned: North Atlantic Treaty Signing,” 3 April 2013; available online
  • Read: Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance Between the People’s Republic of Albania, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the Hungarian People’s Republic, the German Democratic Republic, the Polish People’s Republic, the Rumanian People’s Republic, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the Czechoslovak Republic, 14 May 1955; available online

Projecting the Worst 

  • Read: Peter Bryant, Red Alert (New York: Ace, 1958). 
  • Read: “Studies by Once Top-Secret Government Entity Portrayed Terrible Costs of Nuclear War,” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book no. 480, ed. William Burr; available online

Would the Conflict in Korea Turn into World War III? 

  • Read: Thomas G. Paterson, et al., American Foreign Relations: A History, vol. 2, Since 1895, 6th ed (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005). Read the excerpts from chapter 8 entitled “Diplomatic Crossroad: The Decision to Intervene in the Korean War, 1950” and “Korea, the Cold War, and the ‘Trojan Horse’ of National Security,” pp. 265-275. 

Optional Readings 

  • Optional Reading: Niu Jun, “The Birth of the People’s Republic of China and the Road to the Korean War,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. 1, ed. Leffler and Westad, 221-242. 
  • Optional Reading: Marc Trachtenberg, “A ‘Wasting Asset’: American Strategy and the Shifting Nuclear Balances, 1949-1954,” International Security 13, no. 3 (Winter 1988-1989), 5-49.
  • Optional Reading: Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999). Read ch. 1, “A Spheres of Influence Peace?” pp. 3-33. 

The Enemy at Home 

  • Read: David R. Shumway, “Watching Elvis: The Male Rockstar as Object of the Gaze,” in The Other Fifties: Interrogating Midcentury American Icons, ed. Joel Foreman (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1997), 124-143.
  • Read: Wini Breines, “Postwar White Girls’ Dark Others,” in ibid., 53-77.
  • Read: Lisle A. Rose, The Cold War Comes to Main Street: America in the 1950s (Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 1999). Read ch. 2, “The Red Menace,” pp. 22-38.

The Enemy Abroad: Creating the Third World 

  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 4, “The Widening Conflict, 1953-1963,” pp. 90-121. 
  • Read: Mark Philip Bradley, “Decolonization, the Global South, and the Cold War, 1919-1962,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. 1, ed. Leffler and Westad, 464-485. 
  • Read: Christopher Andrew, “Intelligence in the Cold War,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. 2, Crises and Détente, ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 417-437. 
  • Read: Michael H. Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War: America’s Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1996). Read ch. 1, “The Cold War World of The Ugly American,” pp. 3-18.


The Enemy Abroad: The Vietnam Conflict 

  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 5, “The Sixties,” pp. 122-148. 
  • Read: Hunt, Lyndon Johnson’s War. Read the remainder of the book, chs. 2-5, pp. 19-128.

The Sixties: A Decade of Power and Protest 

  • Read: Jeremi Suri, Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Détente (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003). Read ch. 5, “The Global Disruption of 1968,” pp. 164-212. 


  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 6, “Détente, 1969-1975,” pp. 149-173. 
  • Read: Chen Jian, Mao’s China and the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001). Read ch. 9, “The Sino-American Rapprochement, 1969-1972), pp. 238-276. 
  • Read: J. R. McNeill, “The Environment, Environmentalism, and International Society in the Long 1970s,” in The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective, Niall Ferguson, Charles S. Maier, Erez Manela, and Daniel J. Sargent, eds. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010), 263-278.

A (Second) Cold War

  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 7, “Détente Collapses, 1975-1980,” pp. 174-203. 
  • Read: Bradford Martin, The Other Eighties: A Secret History of America in the Age of Reagan (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011). Read ch. 5, “Noise from the Underground: Post-Punk Music, Culture, and Politics,” pp. 95-118. 
  • View: Ronald Reagan, “Address to the Nation on National Security,” 23 March 1983; available online

The Nuclear Specter 

  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 8, “The Second Cold War, 1981-1985,” pp. 204-228. 
  • Read: Thomas M. Nichols, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). Read ch. 1, “Nuclear Strategy, 1950-1990: The Search for Meaning,” pp. 16-43. 
  • Read: John Mueller, “Questing for Monsters to Destroy,” in In Uncertain Times: American Foreign Policy after the Berlin Wall and 9/11, Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011), 117-130. 

Ending the Cold War 



  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 9, “The End of the Cold War, 1985-1991,” pp. 229-259. 
  • View: “The Fall of the Berlin Wall: the Cold War’s Last Days” (discussion by Robert D. Blackwill, Vitaly Churkin, and Frank Elbe), Council on Foreign Relations, 4 November 2014; available online

Experiencing the Revolution 

  • Timothy Garton Ash, The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of ‘89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague (New York: Random House, 1990). 

Optional Readings 

  • Optional Reading: Helga Haftendorn, “The Unification of Germany, 1985-1991,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. III, Endings, ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 333-355.
  • Optional Reading: Mary Elise Sarotte, “The Wall Comes Down: A Punctuational Moment,” in In Uncertain Times, Leffler and Legro, eds., 13-25.




  • Read: Fink, Cold War. Read ch. 10, “Aftermath, 1992-2001,” pp. 260-289. 
  • View: “Henry Kissinger Looks Back on the Cold War,” Council on Foreign Relations, 4 November 2014; available online

The Post-Cold War International Order 

  • Read: Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, “The Nukes We Need: Preserving the American Deterrent,” Foreign Affairs 88, no. 6 (November-December 2009): 39-51.
  • Read: Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, George Bush with Mikhail Gorbachev, 25 December 1991 (secret); George Bush Presidential Library, College Station, Tx.

Optional Readings 

  • Optional Reading: G. John Ikenberry, “The Restructuring of the International System After the Cold War,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. III, ed. Leffler and Westad, 535-556. 
  • Optional Reading: Richard Allen Greene, Inez Torre, and Kevin Taverner, "Russia Rising: Everything You Need to Know About How Moscow is Flexing its Muscles," CNN, 14 November 2014; available online
  • Optional Reading: Thomas Frear, Łukasz Kulesa, and Ian Kearns, Dangerous Brinksmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014 (European Leadership Network, 2014).