Skip to main content

Who Started The Cold War?

July 2024
1min read

The Cold War—we have spent a generation hearing about it, thinking about it, worrying about it. We all know it somehow grew out of World War II, that it involved conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, and that it led to a series of frightening confrontations: the Berlin airlift; the escalating stages of the nuclear arms race; the Cuban missile crisis; the wars in Korea and Vietnam. But what really caused the Cold War? It is not a simple question, and knowledgeable and honest men can differ considerably in answering it.

On the following pages, Charles L. Mee, Jr., formerly editor of H ORIZON magazine and the author of Meeting at Potsdam (1975) and, currently, A Visit to Haldeman and Other States of Mind , presents an unorthodox view of how the Cold War began. He is replied to by W. Averell Harriman, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and a distinguished participant in some of the relevant events, writing in collaboration with EHe Abel, dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism; finally Mr. Mee is given space for a brief rebuttal. It all adds up, we think, to a most thoughtful and provocative consideration of an awesome fact of the modern world that has overshadowed our lives and our children’s lives, and will continue to do so.

1. A Good Way to Pick a Fight 2. “We can’t Do Business With Stalin” 3. Mr. Mee Replies

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.