Cold War

Miscalculations and blunders by world leaders precipitated the Korean War 60 years ago

On its 60th anniversary, the Korean War looks much like Vietnam, a pointless conflict that gained nothing for those who began it: North Korea’s Kim Il-sung and South Korea’s Syngman Rhee, with the consent of the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong. Yet it was far worse than that: The bloodletting in that corner of northeast Asia was an exercise in human folly that cost all sides in the fighting nearly 4 million lives lost, missing, and wounded, not to mention the devastation of the peninsula from Pusan in the south to the Yalu River in the north. Not a single northern or southern Korean city escaped the ravages wrought by modern warfare. Public buildings and private homes were turned into piles of rubble, while thousands of refugees fled from the scenes of battle. Read more >>

On the 25th anniversary of two famous Reagan speeches, the former Speaker of the House asks why we haven’t learned more from the 40th president

A quarter century ago, President Ronald Reagan delivered two masterful addresses within two weeks of one another: the so-called “Evil Empire” and “Star Wars” speeches. In them, Reagan laid out two great strategies for dismantling the Soviet Empire. Read more >>

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

Over the Wall Read more >>

What a skeptical biographer discovered about a very elusive subject

A final interview with the most controversial father of the atomic age, Edward Teller

In his kaleidoscopic novel U.S.A., a trilogy published between 1930 and 1936, John Dos Passos offered a descriptive line that has always stayed with me. Read more >>

Six Aspects Of The Man—Three Political, Three Personal—Hint At How Posterity Will View Him

The United States Information Agency did not long survive the Cold War it helped wage. But today the lessons it taught us may be more useful than ever.

Fifty years ago this summer the Eisenhower administration created a unique federal agency, one that most Americans never even knew about. Read more >>

Our common history isn’t all pleasant, but seeing it firsthand is deeply moving

A soldier-historian looks at how the world has changed in the past decade and finds that America is both hostage to history and likely to be saved by it

Military historians sometimes write biographies of people they call military intellectuals. Read more >>

The Cuban Missile Crisis as seen from the Kremlin

THE WORLD CAME CLOSE TO A NUCLEAR CLASH THREE times during the half-century of the Cold War. The first was in Korea when China’s intervention snatched imminent victory from General MacArthur. Read more >>

In his last speech as President, he inaugurated the spirit of the 1960s

Whatever the calendars say, in some figurative sense America’s 1950s ended, and the 1960s began, on January 17, 1961, when President Dwight D. Read more >>

From Berlin to Washington to Area 51, landmarks of the era are opening up to tourists.

The strangest of all Cold War relics also offers a clue to why we won it

Nikita Khrushchev’s son remembers a great turning point of the Cold War, as seen from behind the Iron Curtain

Nikita Khrushchev’s son recalls a world where the United States was the Evil Empire—and Soviet superpower a carefully maintained illusion

Growing up on a Cold War air base in the shadow of the big one

“Do you realize there are fifteen hundred babies born a month in SAC?” says Jimmy Stewart, playing a B-36 pilot in the 1954 film Strategic Air Command . I was raised among those babies. Read more >>

It was born of a slew of compromises—which may be the secret of its survival in a vastly changed world

Sometimes historical changes march onstage to the sound of trumpet fanfares. And sometimes they arrive with what seems remarkably little notice by a distracted audience. Read more >>

SIXTY YEARS AGO THIS MONTH the Soviet Union orbited a “man-made moon” whose derisive chirp persuaded Americans they’d already lost a race that had barely begun

In an exchange of letters, a man who had an immeasurable impact on how the great struggle of our times was waged looks back on how it began

Seen in its proper historical context—amid the height of the Cold War—the investigation into Kennedy’s assassination looks much more impressive and its shortcomings much more understandable

In September 1994, after doggedly repeating a white lie for forty-seven years, the Air Force finally admitted the truth about a mysterious 1947 crash in the New Mexico desert. Read more >>

Though it appears to have sprung up overnight, the inspiration of free-spirited hackers, it in fact was born in Defense Department Cold War projects of the 1950s

The Internet seems so now, so happening, so information age, that its Gen-X devotees might find the uncool circumstances of its birth hard to grasp. Read more >>

The first American to leave the Earth's atmosphere recalls the momentous flight that put us on a course for the moon.

THE SHRILL RINGING WOKE ME from deep sleep early in the morning of April 12, 1961. I was confused for a moment, but only a moment. I was in my room in the Holiday Inn at Cocoa Beach, Florida. Read more >>

The half-remembered Korean conflict was full of surprises, and nearly all of them were unpleasant

Korea is in the news again, and it’s ugly news. North Korea may or may not have the capability to make nuclear weapons, and North Korea’s aging dictator, Kim Il Sung, is unwilling to let international inspectors find out. The United Nations is talking of sanctions. Read more >>

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Read more >>

The Cold War was an anomaly: more often than not the world’s two greatest states have lived together in uneasy amity. And what now?

Exactly two hundred years after George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States and three hundred years after Peter the Great’s ascent to the Russian throne, a new chapter opened in the history of the relations of the two greatest Read more >>

In the twilight of Castro’s regime, one of the soldiers who put him in power recalls what it was like to be a fidelista up in the hills four decades ago when a whole new, just, democratic world was there for the building

Like a hurricane spawned in distant waters, the full force of the collapse of world Communism has finally reached the island of Cuba and seems poised to sweep away the last vestiges of the Marxist-Leninist structure erected there over the last three decades. Read more >>

As I watched the lunar landing on television, my part in the whole scenario took on a new meaning.

It’s hard to believe that an entire generation has reached adulthood since that day twenty-one years ago when the world watched those grainy television images of two American astronauts cavorting on the moon. Read more >>

Thirty years after judging Eisenhower to be among our worst Presidents, historians have now come around to the opinion most of their fellow Americans held right along.

Critics charged that Ike was spineless in his refusal to openly fight Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Read more >>