header by Emerson Taymor, 2005

1. The Colonial Era: 1607-1763

2. The Revolutionary Era: 1763-1789

3. The Early National Period: 1789-1824

4. Jacksonian America: 1824-1848

5. Antebellum America: 1848-1860

6. The Civil War Era: 1861-1877

7. The Gilded Age: 1877-1901

8. Progressivism: 1901-1920

9. The Twenties

10. Depression and New Deal: 1929-1939

11. World War II: 1939-1945

12. Early Cold War: 1945-1963

13. Social Ferment: 1945-1960

14. The Sixties

15. The Seventies and After




Chapter Twelve: The Early Cold War

condensed timeline of the 1950s and 1960s


US Army map of the firebombing of Japan

the atomic bomb and the end of World War II, from National Security Archive (2015); Nuclear weapon archive: a guide to nuclear weapons; the Manhattan Project's engineers' study of the bombs' effects on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the bomb's effects mapped onto other cities; Alex Wellerstein, "Nagasaki: The Last Bomb," New Yorker (2015)

Bob Greene on the death of Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets (2007)

video of every atomic explosion since 1945

I.F. Stone, "The End of the War" (1945); Stone, "No Way to Hide" (1961); Carl Nolte, "Missile Sites are Cold War Reminders" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2006)

Truman discusses the bomb at Potsdam (1945); historian Paul Boyer, "The Day America First Heard the News" and "How Americans Imagined the Bomb They Dropped," from Fallout: A Historian Reflects on America's Half-Cenury Encounter with the Bomb (1998); was dropping the bomb necessary? Historian Robert Maddox defends the decision

Louis Menand, "Fat Man," The New Yorker (2005): on Herman Kahn and nuclear strategy; learning to love the atom bomb: quotations and anecdotes about the Cold War and gender; current info about how to survive a nuclear attack, from the Department of Homeland Security; from Vince Houghton, Nuking the Moon: how the government prepared to keep itself safe; why the US planned to nuke the moon (spoiler: to show it could); how the US government dropped two nuclear bombs on North Carolina in 1961; when the US lost multiple bombs in the 50s

Patricia Leigh Brown, "Armageddon Again" (nuclear fears, then and now) (2001); table of global nuclear stockpiles, 1945-2002; Herblock's cartoon about the Soviet bomb (1949); table explaining which presidents added to and subtracted from our nuclear stockpile; Joseph Lyon on the incidence of leukemia in areas of Utah where there were A-bomb tests (1979)

How masculine or feminine are you? Take this test and find out, in 50s terms. (It's from Coronet magazine in 1955.) If you'd like to inflict this on your friends or family, online version here.

temp work, coders, and computers in the early Cold War, from Gray and Suri, Ghost Work


the debate over what happened at Yalta: did the US sell out Eastern Europe?

Novikov telegram, in which the Soviet ambassador seeks to explain American conduct (1946); former Vice-President Henry Wallace suggests that the US concilate the USSR (1946); Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain" speech (1946); map of Marshall Plan expenditures (1948); I.F. Stone, "Mr. Smith Pleads for Peace" (1949); the US State Department debates whether or not to intervene in Vietnam (1949); the text of NSC-68 (1950)

historian John Lewis Gaddis, from The Cold War: A New History (2005): "What Did Stalin Want?"; "What Did the Americans Want?"

historian Melvyn Leffler, from For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War (2007): on Stalin and Truman; "Ideology, Personality, and the International System"

comparing American and Soviet Cold-War conduct in Guatemala, Iran, and Eastern Europe; Tony Judt, "Why the Cold War Worked," New York Review of Books (1997)

Khaled Beydoun on the politics of Muslim immigration during the Cold War


Joe McCarthy on Democrats (1950); Joseph Welch's "have you no sense of decency?" remarks, from the Army-McCarthy hearings (1954); the Senate censures McCarthy (1957)

Glenn Beck channels McCarthy on the Obama administration (2009); Herblock's cartoons about anti-Communism; Tom Kuntz, "Gee, Man, Look at That!": the FBI surveils Playboy magazine (2000); the Rosenbergs' children call for Ethel's exoneration (2015);

Frank Donner on police "red squads," 1930s-60s; Richard Fried on patriotic pageantry in Cold-War America; Richard Hofstadter on the paranoid style in American politics; documents and tesimony from HUAC's visit to Hollywood (1947); Ring Lardner, Jr., on his experiences with HUAC in Hollywood; Jeff Leen, "AKA Frank Sinatra," Washington Post (1999), on FBI surveillance of Sinatra for 40 years

J. Edgar Hoover, "The Communist Front" and "Why Do People Become Communist?" from Masters of Deceit (1956)

Victor Navasky, "A Note on Vocabulary" and "The Reasons Considered," from Naming Names (1980), a famous study of who informed and why


If Eisenhower had given the Gettysburg Address (a parody from the late 50s)

Eisenhower explains the domino theory (1954); Sam Tanenhaus, "From Vietnam to Iraq: The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Domino Theory" (2003)

Clifford Krauss, ""The CIA and Guatemala: The Spies Who Never Came in from the Cold" (1999); Richard Chacon, "Guatemalan People Still Waiting for Most Important Apologies" from the CIA (1999); Guatemalan police archives, from the National Security Archive; declassified CIA documents relating to Guatemala, including plans for assassination of much of the country's leadership, from the National Security Archive

historian Tim Weiner discusses the secret history of CIA plots in the 50s and 60s (2007); kooky CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and, more recently, discredit Saddam Hussein as gay (Washington Post [2010])

discussion materials and sources on the Bay of Pigs: background and setup of discussion: to intervene or not? reading 1; reading 2; reading 3; the CIA claims, in 2012, that releasing its files on the Bay of Pigs would "confuse" the public

Sam Roberts, "In Archive, New Light on Evolution of Eisenhower's Military-Industrial Complex Speech" (2010)