Cold War Connection Home Page



Carnegie Mellon University, Spring 1999

Tuesday, Thursday 12.00-1:20; PH 225B

Ruud van Dijk (

Office: Old Student Center/Post Office Building, Rm 207

Phone: 8-4007 (or 8-2880)


This course will examine the Cold War as a political, ideological, economic, and military contest on global scale. It will give special attention to the American role and experience. We will investigate how the Cold War started and why, how it was waged and by whom, why it lasted as long as it did, and finally how it came to an end and what the end of the Cold War suggests about its course and nature. Along the way, we will also discuss how Cold War legacies continue to shape our world.

Required readings:

John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (New York: Oxford, 1997)

Ralph B. Levering, The Cold War: A Post-Cold War History (Arlington Heights, Il: Harlan Davidson, 1994)

Martin J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race (New York: Vintage, 1987)

Ernest R. May, ed., American Cold War Strategy: Interpreting NSC 68 (Boston: Bedford, 1993)

Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (N.P.: Basic, 1988)

Herbert F. York, The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller, and the Superbomb (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989)

Stuart W. Leslie, The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993)

Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996)

Reserve materials, t.b.a.

Class Format and Procedures:

Lecturing, discussion, and video tapes. Every Friday at the latest, I will e-mail to you study/discussion questions for the following week. You need to answer these questions in writing (about one page per class). These questions are meant to help you get the readings done, direct you to significant issues in the readings, and have us all focus on the same questions so as to facilitate class discussion. I will read this written work, return it to you with comments, but only grade it with a "+" or a "-", basically signifying that you did, or did not, do the work. The main purpose of these study questions is to facilitate discussion, not to see if you came up with the "right" answer. You are expected to come to class prepared (i.e. having finished the readings and with written answers to the study question[s]). This is also very much in your own interest. It is very easy to fall behind on the readings and often very difficult to catch up again. Furthermore, I may call on you during discussion (if you have a legitimate reason for not having done the readings, speak to me before class).

Grading Criteria:

Attendance & Discussion Participation: 15%

Weekly Study/Discussion Questions (written answers): 15%

Cold War Debriefing: 10%

Midterm Exam: 20%

Film/Video or Novel Review: 20%

Final Exam: 20%

Attendance Policy:

This course deals with a lot of material and is designed to rely for a significant part on class discussion. In light of the importance for everyone to keep up with our rigorous pace and to ensure that good discussion develops, attendance is mandatory. At the beginning of every class, I will pass out an attendance sheet; it is your responsibility to get your name on this sheet. I understand that people get sick, sometimes choose to study of finish work for other classes, go to job interviews, etc. Therefore, you will get two unexcused absences with no questions asked. Thereafter, each unexcused absence will automatically reduce your grade by five points (on a one hundred point-scale) irrespective of your performance in other dimensions of the course. I reserve the right to determine what is an "excused absence". As a rule, you should speak to me face-to-face or communicate with me via telephone or e-mail before your absence. Also, try hard to come to class on time. Latecomers are disruptive, and in case of repeated late arrivals I reserve the right to lower your grade.

Week 1: Introduction, Definitions, Pre-History

For 1/14 read: Gaddis, Ch. 1; Levering, Prologue

Week 2: Europe

For 1/19 read: Gaddis, Ch. 2; Levering, Ch 1 pp. 15-40

For 1/21 read: Gaddis, Ch 5 pp. 113-129

Week 3: The Bomb

For 1/26 read: Sherwin, Introd., Pt. I, II (pp. 3-140)

For 1/28 read: Sherwin, Pt. III (pp. 141-238) -- new introduction and appendices optional

Cold War Debriefing due 1/28 in class

Week 4: The Bomb, Asia

For 2/2 read: Gaddis, Ch. 4

For 2/4 read: Gaddis, Ch. 3; Levering Ch. 1 pp. 40-53

Week 5: United States Cold War Strategy

For 2/9 read: Ernest May, Introd., Pt. I (pp. 1-82)

For 2/11 read: Ernest May, Pt. II (pp. 83-198)

Week 6: Cold War at Home

readings for 2/16 and 2/18: t.b.a.

Week 7: Cold War America

Read for 2/23 and 2/25: Elaine Tyler May, especially Chs. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9

Week 8:

3/2 Review

3/4 Midterm Exam (in class)

Week 9: Bigger Bombs

For 3/9 read: York, Introd. - Ch. 5

For 3/11 read: York, Ch. 6 - Appendix 2

Week 10: Two Camps and the Third World

For 3/16 read: Gaddis, Ch. 6

For 3/18 read: Gaddis, Ch. 7; Levering Ch. 2

Week 11: The Crisis Years

For 3/30 read: Gaddis, Ch. 5 pp. 129-151, Ch. 8

For 4/1 read: Gaddis, Ch. 9

Week 12: Science and the Cold War

For 4/6 read: Leslie, Introd. - Ch. 4

For 4/8 read: Leslie, Ch. 5 - Ch. 9

Week 13: The Sixties: Vietnam, Prague, and the Sino-Soviet Split

Read for 4/13 and 4/15: Levering Ch. 3; t.b.a

Film/Video or Novel review due 4/15 in class

Week 14: The Seventies: The Rise and Fall of Détente

For 4/20 read: Gates Pt. I; Levering, Ch. 4 pp. 135-162; t.b.a.

For 4/22 read: Gates Pt. II

Week 15: The Eighties: Reagan, Gorbachev, and the End of the Cold War

For 4/27 read: Gates Pt. III; Levering, Ch. 4 pp. 162-180

For 4/29 read: Gates Pt. IV; Levering, Epilogue

Final Exam: according to university schedule

N.B.: I reserve the right to change this syllabus at any time during the semester