History of the Cold War : A Comparative Perspective

Texts: Melvyn P. Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: The United States. The Soviet Union, and the Cold War, Hill and Wang, 2007.

Vladislav M. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold war from Stalin to Gorbachev , University of North caralina Press, 2007

Dmitri Volkogonov, Autopy for an Empire: The Seven Leaders who Built the Soviet Regime, Free Press, 1998


Additional readings will posted on the web site for your access and study.

N.B. Several handouts and/or downloads will be used during the semester. These works are an integral part of this course's reading assignments and you are expected to read them as assigned in the schedule of readings. You may expect at least one exam question from each reading.

This course has an extensive web site. It is our plan to place copies of all assigned readings and graphics on the web site. We are placing them at your convenience so you have ready access to as much material from the course as modern technology permits.

We plan to utilize many maps, graphs, illustrations, video and pictures during almost every class session. All the media we will use throughout the semester takes up substantial memory and we should anticipate problems in the accession of the site and the use of the site from certain students home computer systems. If you have problems with the site let me know when you know. If you have problems getting to the site from your home system remember we have many computer labs on campus and they will acquire the site much faster. We also intend to place our course notes, with the daily schedule of readings on the web site.

Remember media files, whether graphs, maps, video or photos take substantial memory, especially true if they are in color; when you download these files you must be patient. Some files will take several minutes to download; if you have a slow modem they could take ten's of minutes. When possible I suggest you download the files from one of the computer labs on campus. The files will download faster.

Side Bar

Personality Matters

Ideology Matters

Arm race:1945-1959

Films of the Cold War

Comedy & the Cold War

TimeLine Cold War




Course Requirements & Assignments:

1) Each student shall read all assigned readings. Please print out the assigned readings prior to class and have your copy with you during class.

2) Each student shall read a historiographic essay on the Cold War and in a brief, 250 to 300 word essay establish what school of historiography it represents. You may also appraise the interpretation and make your own judgement on how convincing the argrument is. Due

3) Each student shall write midterm and final exam;

4) Each student shall write a research paper on an approved topic--3,000-4,000 words. The topics may include any of the themes we will follow over the semester: ie the role of ideology, the impact of the arms/technology race, the role of personality, the use of Comedy to cope, the competing views of the Cold War through film, etc. All projects must take a comparative perspective and look at least at the two principals. It is encouraged that the project use a multi disciplinary and multi media approach.

evaluating web sites: Cornell Univ. Library site

5) Each student is advised to review the Student handbook on academic standards and the dangers of plagiarism. Plagiarism is an unethical act and is totally antithetical to the goals and purposes of a Liberal Education. Any student found copying text, or the ideas from another authors work without correctly crediting that work will fail this course and be referred to the College administration for further disciplinary actions.

6.) If you need a course adaptation or accomodations because of a documented disability, please make an appointment to see me during my office hours.



Some Rich sites for Cold War History on the Web:

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War Files

The Cold War-National Archives

Presidential Libraries

Truman Library

Berlin Airlift

The Marshall Plan

The Truman Doctrine

Eisenhower Library

Kennedy Library

Johnson Library

Nixon Library

Ford Library

Carter Library

Reagan Library

George H. W. Bush Library

Cold War-a Google search

Berlin Airlift

Western Allies in West Berlin (1945-1994)

Berlin Wall

Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security

maps of Communism

Richard Jensen Cold War

Cold War web sites--NYMAS selection


Hoover Institution-Soviet Archives

Stalin-Era Research and Archives Project

Revelations from the Soviet Archives

Yale Russian Archive Project

Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Wed. Feb 15 (session 1)

Course Overview


Ch. 2
Ideology and the origins of the Cold War, 1917-1962, by DAVID C. ENGERMAN

Ch. I
Grand strategies in the Cold War by JOHN LEWIS GADDIS

(emailed to students prior to semester)


Student Data Sheet

Pre-Course Questionnaire

Course Description & Objectives


Empire by Invitation? The United States and Western Europe, 1945-1952
Geir Lundestad
Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Sep., 1986), pp. 263-277.


Origins of the Cold War, 1941-1949
Revised third edition
Martin McCauley

Ch 1 Setting the Scene

Unit One: Stalin Years

Wed Feb. 15 (session 2)


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ch 1 a( pp. 11-36) ;

Burns, James Macgregor; Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom , "Stalin" pp. 92-97 ; "Reprise: Russia Second" pp231-238 ; "Tehran" pp. 406-417 ; "Yalta" pp. 557-580

Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 1

Andrei Gromyko, Memoirs , "On America" pp. 68-76 ; " Tehran, Yalta"pp. 77-90

Feb. 22 W (session 3)

Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 1b (pp. 38-57)

Truman, Memoirs, vol 1; Ch 21 (pp. 332-342, ch 22-23 (pp.342-371) , ch 24-25 (pp.372-414) Truman (pp.71-82)

Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 2

Gromyko, Memoirs, Potsdam (pp. 95-114),

Feb. 22 W (session 4)




Ch 8, The Marshall Plan and the creation of the West, WILLIAM 1. HITCHCOCK

Cambridge Cold War Hist, vol 1


Ch 2, Identity and the Cold War, ROBERT JERVIS

Cambridge Cold War Hist, vol 2

Feb. 29 W (session 5)

Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 1c (pp. 74-84)

HST, vol 2; ch 7 Truman Doctrine , ch 8 Marshall Plan ; Hogan, Marshall Plan, ch Conclusion

Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 3 (pp. 62-78); Volkogonov, Stalin, (pp. 451-454) ; "The Russian Perspective: The Soviet Road to the Cold war" by Vladimir O. Pechatnov & c. Earl Edmondson, (pp.114-125)



Feb. 29 W (session 6)

Berlin Blockade

Historiographic essay on the Cold War (250-300 words) due

HST, vol 2, Ch 9 Berlin Blockade ; b. HST, vol 2, ch 17 NATO ;

Patterson, Grand Expectations, ch 7 Red Scares Home and Abroad

Pechnatov, pp.134-151




Mar. 7 W (session 7)


)HST, vol 2, ch 21, 22: Korean War , ch 23_24 KoreanWar ,

"Beijing and the Korean Crisis, June 1950-June 1951" by Michael H. Hunt, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 107, No. 3. (

Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 3 (pp. 78-93); Volkogonov, ch 2a ( pp.151-166.)

Khrushchev. Memoirs, Korean War


Unit Two: Khrushchev's years


Mar. 7 W (session 8)


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 2 a (pp. 84-122); Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, ch 16 "Guatemala" , ch 18 "New Look", ch 21 "Geneva Summit"

Patterson, ch 10 World Affairs, 1953-1956

Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 4 (pp. 94-107); Volkogonov, Autopsy for an Empire, ch 2b(pp. 166-180); ch 3a (pp. 181-209),Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, The Inside Story of an American Adversary: Khrushchev's Cold War, WW Norton, 2006, ch 2 Geneva (pp. 33-56), ch 3 Arms to Egypt (pp.57-82)

Khrushchev, ch Geneva



Mar. 14 W (session 9)


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 2 b (pp.122-147); Eisenhower, Vol II, ch 2 "Suez", ch 3 "20Days"


Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 5; Volkogonov, ch 3b (pp. 201-222)

Fursenko, ch 4 Suez (pp. 83-113), ch 5 Twin Crisis (pp. 114-137)


Mar. 14 W (session 10)


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 2c (pp. 147-151); Eisenhower, Vol II, ch 8 "Sputnik"


Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 5; (pp,123-143); Volkogonov, ch 3 (pp.222-235)

Fursenko, ch 6, Khrushchev's Comet Sputnik (pp. 138-157)


Mar. 21 W (session 11)


Mar. 21 W (session 12)


Bay of Pigs 1961

Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 3 a (pp. 151-192) Dallek, ch 10 Schooling of a President (356-372);

ch 11World of Troubles, ; ch 12 Crisis Manager

David Reynolds, Summits: Six Meetings that Shaped the Twentieth Century, Basic Books, 2007, ch 4 Viennna

Zubok, A Failed Empire ;ch 5 b (pp. 138-153) Fursenko, ch 14 Son of a Bitch ; ch 15 Iron Ring ;

ch 16 Storm in Berlin


Mar. 28 W (session 13)

Cuban Missile Crisis


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 3 a (pp. 151-192) Dallek, ch 16 "to The Brink" ;


Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 6 (pp.163-177); Volkogonov. Ch 3 (pp. 235-248)Fursenko, ch 17 "Meniscus" ; ch 18 "We will win this" ; ch 19 "Cuban Missile Crisis"

Volkogonov, ch 3 "Anadyn"


April 4 W (session 15)


Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: ) ; ch 3 (pp. 192-233) Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, ch 9, Vietnam,


Zubok, A Failed Empire ;ch 6 (pp.177-191); Volkogonov, ch 3 (pp. 248-261); , Dobyninin, Trying to Juggle war & Peace



April 4 W (session 16)


Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream ch 11, "Under Seige in the White House. ch 12 Withdrawal


Zubok, A Failed Empire ; ch 7 (pp. 192-207); Georgi Arbatov, the System: An Insiders Life in Soviet Politics, "Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev" (245-254)



Unit Three: Brezhnev Years

April 11 W (session 17)

1968 qua 1968

Jeremi Suri, Power and protest: Global revolution and the Rise of Detente, ch 5 "The Global Disruption of 1968"


Zubok, A Failed Empire , ch 7 (pp.207-215)



Term Project Research Status Report # 2

April 25 W (session 19)

Nixon: 1969-1970


x Jeremi Suri, Power and protest: Global revolution and the Rise of Detente, ch 6 Diplomacy and the Politics of Detente ,

The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, "Vietnam" (pp.390-415); Nixon,"Operation Breakfast" (pp.380-382) , Nixon, "Cambodia and Kent State" (pp.445-469);


xZubok, A Failed Empire ch 7 (215-226); Dobrynin, ch 2 "Summit Foothills (pp. 209-225),



April 25 W (session 20)



b Nixon, "China" (pp.544-580) , , Nixon "Summit 1" (pp. 609-622) , Nixon, "End of War" (pp.717-744)

Recommended: Nixon, "N. Nam invades South" (pp.583-594)

bZubok, A Failed Empire ch 8 (pp. 227-238) ; Dobrynin, ch 3 "Geopolitical Triangle" (pp. 226-238) , ch 4 "to the Summit" (pp.239-264) ; Volkogonov, ch 4 pt a Brezhnev pt b (pp.262-302.)



May 2 W (session 21)



m Leffler, ch 4 (pp.234-244) Nixon "Summit II" (pp. 875-889) ; Kissinger: A Biography by Walter Isaacson (pp.139-151, 202-209.); THE ODD COUPLE, Dallek, Nixon & Kissinger

RECOMMENDED: Nixon, "Yom Kippur War" (pp.920-944)

mZubok, A Failed Empire ch 8 (pp.238-247) ; Dobrynin, ch 5"To the Summit again , in America" (pp.265-286) ,, ch 7 "Fall of Nixon" (pp.302-318)

RECOMMENDED: Dobrynin, ch 6 "October War" (287-318)


May 2 W (session 22)

Vladivostok 1974-1976


m Leffler, ch 4 (pp.244-259) ; Ford, A TIME TO HEAL (pp. 1-24) ; Wilentz, ch 2 Detente and its Discontents (48-72)


m Zubok, A Failed Empire ch 8 (pp.247-254); Dobrynin, THE FORD PRESIDENCY, 1974-1977, I. Searching for the Real Gerald Ford, II. The Erosion of Detente , Gromyko, on Ford



Gorbachev Years

May 16 W (session 23)

1976-1980 Detente Collapses



b Leffler ch 4 (pp.259-337) ; (Glad) Personality (pp. 487-507).

Recommended: Carter, Iran (pp 457-459), Carter, Afghanistan, (pp 471-489)Glad, Campaigner as President (pp451-472);

bZubok, A Failed Empire ch 8 (pp.254-264); Donbrynin, Carter (pp374-392) , Muddled President (pp. 402-407)

Recommended: Dobrynin, The Summit in Vienna (pp. 422-433.)



Term Project due-Late papers Fail Final Term Project check list

May 23 W (session 26)

Bush and Gorbachev


m Leffler ch V, (pp. 439-451); Leffler Conclusion (pp.451-469)Wilentz, ch 10 (pp.288-322)


Zubok, A Failed Empire ch 10 (pp.303-335) ; Volkogonov, ch 7 Gorbachev, (pp. 498-529.); Dobrynin, (624_639); Zubok, A Failed Empire, Epilogue



May 23 W (session 27)


Final Exam

Chapt 19. "Transnational Organizations and the Cold War"


Chapt. 23, "Consumer Capitalism and the End of the Cold War"

On your final exam you will be asked to select one of these two essay's from the Cambridge History of the Cold War and to succinctly state the chapter's thesis. N.B. You are NOT being asked to summarize the chapter or to state your opinion about the article but rather state the works thesis.