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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

The Cold War and Decolonization, 1945-1975


CNN Cold War: Interactive Maps
This site features several excellent interactive maps exploring issues and events of the Cold War, such as the Korean War and the Marshall Plan.

Cold War Maps
This site presents several maps of flash points during the Cold War, such as Vietnam and Central America.

The Cold War 1945-1960 and The Cold War 1960-1991
These maps demonstrate the shifting alliances during the Cold War, especially among developing nations.

Korean War Maps
These five maps explore the ebb and flow of the Korean War.

United States Military Academy Atlas: Vietnam
This comprehensive site documents the wars in Vietnam during the postwar era.

United Nations: Decolonization
This site offers two maps, one of the world in 1945 and one of the world today.  The maps are in pdf format.

Dumping the Colonies: New Nations, 1946-1975

About.com: Arab Culture Almanac
This site features contemporary maps of Arab countries.

Middle East Maps
This site presents numerous historical maps of this strife-ridden region during the twentieth century.  It also includes several maps detailing the religious composition of the area.

United States Military Academy Atlas: Arab-Israeli Wars
This comprehensive site explores the hostilities between Israel and her Arab neighbors during the postwar period.


CNN: Cold War
This detailed site offers hundreds of images of leaders and events of the Cold War.

Wars of the Twentieth Century
This chart ranks the wars of the twentieth century according to their death tolls.  It allows you to view the number of military casualties associated with the Cold War and nation building during the postwar era.

Milestones in United Nations History
This site presents several images associated with the founding of the United Nations and several peacekeeping missions.

Sir Winston Churchill: The Sinews of Peace
Listen to Churchill's famous "iron curtain" speech.

For European Recovery: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan
This site offers many images associated with the Marshall Plan, especially with propaganda about it.

The Korean War: Images
Numerous images from this early Cold War confrontation in Asia can be found at this site.

Nixon Debates!
This site features four audio files of Vice President Richard Nixon's famous debate with Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev in the late 1950s over the merits of Western versus Soviet-style economic systems.

The Berlin Wall
This site, some of which is in German, offers many images of the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989.

Kennedy at the Berlin Wall
This interesting site allows you to view images and listen to excerpts from President John F. Kennedy's famous speech delivered in front of the Berlin Wall.

The Cuban Missile Crisis: Photos from the JFK Library
View images of missile silos and of the political leaders who were involved in this crisis.

Time 100: Mao Zedong
This essay also features video clips of Mao's famous meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1972.

PBS Divided Highways: Teachers Guide
Click the menu entitled "In addition" to view several images associated with postwar American prosperity.  This particular site focuses on the automobile culture that emerged in the United States as a result of the Interstate Highways Act.

PBS Battlefield Vietnam
There are several multimedia presentations on American troop involvement in the Vietnam War at this site.

Vietnam War Internet Project: Index of Graphics
This comprehensive site examines the American experience in Vietnam.

Nova Online: To the Moon
Revisit the astronauts' moon exploration at this site.

Picturing Power: Posters from China's Cultural Revolution
This site features an impressive collection of posters that were used to further the goals of Mao Zedong during China's disastrous Cultural Revolution.

Activity One:

World War II marked a dramatic turning point in world history.  After 1945, western European powers no longer dominated global politics and the global economy.  Instead, two important developments emerged: the Cold War and decolonization.  Both, in many ways, resulted from shifting values and changes in leadership within the West.  To explore this situation further, first go to For European Recovery: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan and work through this site until you reach the section entitled "The Marshall Plan and the Future of U.S.-European Relations."  While investigating this material, keep the following questions in mind:  How did the Marshall Plan symbolize changing values among Western nations?  In other words, what were its goals?  Who participated in the plan, and what were its long-run benefits?  Why did it lead to greater economic cooperation instead of economic, military, and political competition among Western powers?  How did fear of the Soviet Union serve as an impetus for this unprecedented cooperation?  Why were other Western powers willing to acquiesce to U.S. leadership?

For a broader overview of the economic history of the West between 1945 and 1975, see The Great Keynesian Boom: "Thirty Glorious Years."  What economic and political policies, according to this author, contributed to strong economic growth in the three decades after World War II?  How do these policies represent a shift from those followed during the first half of the twentieth century?  Who tended to benefit the most from this economic growth?

After reviewing these two sites, analyze how shifting values and changes in leadership in the West contributed to the Cold War and decolonization.  While discussing the Cold War, explore whether there was any connection among the proliferation of the Bretton Woods Conference's international monetary system, American economic power, and Western nations' hostility toward the Soviet Union. Why did these nations perceive the Soviet Union's policies as a threat to their way of life?  While discussing decolonization, consider whether the fact that electorates wished to spend more money on social welfare programs reduced their enthusiasm for preserving their nations' global empires?  Did the emergence of economic cooperation and U.S. leadership lessen their concerns about economic and military security?

Activity Two:

When viewed from a Western perspective, the postwar period was an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity, yet these developments in the West were only some of the worldwide changes of the era.  For millions of other people, this was a time of nation building.  The newly independent nation-states in Africa and Asia as well as the older countries of Latin America all struggled to meet the demands of nationalism and social justice.  For many, simply defining the nature of their nations proved to be very difficult.  At the same time, the quest to achieve economic stability was challenging for most of these nations.

Read the accounts written by several leaders of the Third World during this period and analyze their aspirations. For Africa, see Kwame Nkrumah "Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism"; Jomo Kenyatta: The Kenya Africa Union is Not the Mau Mau, 1952; and Tanzania: The Arusha Declaration, 1967.  For Latin America, see Fidel Castro: Second Declaration of Havana, 1962.  For Asia, see President Sukarno of Indonesia: Speech at the Opening of the Bandung Conference, April 18 1955 and U Nu: Burma Looks Ahead, 1951.  How do these leaders believe that they can encourage economic development and social justice?  How are they expressing nationalism and trying to create a sense of national identity and national values?  How do they perceive the Cold War?  Do they look to the Soviet Union or to the West as models of development, or do they search for other alternatives?  What problems and legacies must their nations overcome to reach their goals?

Activity Three:

One major success story in the Third World during the postwar period was the Green Revolution  (see Environment and Technology on page 832 of Bulliet, et al., The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition) to review this material.  For a thoughtful analysis of this phenomenon, see The Atlantic Monthly: Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity.  Define the term Green Revolution and explain Norman Borlaug's role in it.  In what regions of the world was this movement most pronounced? Why was it more successful in some of the world's regions than in others?  What specific problems did the Green Revolution help Third World countries address?  On the other hand, what do critics of the Green Revolution argue are the long-range consequences of high-yield agriculture? Discuss Borlaug's claim that some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them

Activity Four:

As the debate over the Green Revolution discussed in Activity Three suggests, many people around the world--whether in the West, the Soviet bloc nations, or the Third World--began to question the values associated with the Cold War and economic development during the 1960s and 1970s.  Many of those leading these challenges were young people, particularly college students.  In the United States, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in 1962 and grew throughout the decade.  To understand its goals and aspirations, see its founding charter at Students for a Democratic Society Port Huron Statement (June 15, 1962).  What aspects of Western values and economic development during the postwar period were these students protesting?  Why do you think that their message appealed to so many college students?

To observe a similar development in Mexico, see THE 1968 MEXICAN STUDENT MOVEMENT.  What aspects of Mexican society did these students protest?  What problems did they have with the policies of the Mexican government?  What were the similarities and differences between these student movements in the United States and Mexico in terms of their goals and aspirations?  Do you believe that the rise of student protests such as these symbolized the emergence of a new era in world history?  In other words, do these protests suggest a transition in concerns away from the Cold War and decolonization toward new developments and issues?  Defend your answer.