My mother, Rae Straw, and her friend Pam had an odd assignment in 1979 for two travel agents from Houston: selling the Soviet Union to American tourists. For travel agents, such familiarization or “FAM” trips were a regular occurrence, but going to the Soviet Union during the preparations for the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a unique experience.
Recalling his formative years as an American baby boomer and the influence the Cold War and the Soviet Union had on his worldview, Donald Raleigh asks what life was like for people his age in the Soviet Union? What were their concerns about the future? How did they spend their time and what did Cold War ideological battles mean for their daily lives?
An extravagant party on the rooftop of a Havana hotel. It’s the late 1950s; hedonistic tourism is booming in the City. A band plays loud. Drinks. Laughter. Our line of vision moves from the hotel’s rooftop to a crowd of tourists below, where we see a woman and follow her into the pool. Underwater….Hailed today a classic for its inventive cinematography, “I am Cuba” was virtually forgotten for three decades.
Contrasting visions of Reagan have been especially stark in the realm of foreign affairs. Advocates often argue that he launched a new arms race that undermined the Soviet Union. Critics remember a detached leader presiding over the shameful Iran-Contra scandal. Both depictions are problematic, as they accentuate different aspects of a complex, often inscrutable man.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, into earth’s orbit. Traveling at around 18,000 MPH, the spherical device circled the earth every 93 minutes, transmitting radio pulses from its protruding antennae around the globe.
What role did space exploration assume in the history of Soviet-American relations? For her Texas History Day research paper, Kacey Manlove argues that it represented the “fire” of mutual distrust and fear, but also the “ice” of cooperation and détente.
Before 1948, the Cold War was largely confined to Europe and the Middle East, areas that both U.S. and Soviet leaders considered vital to their nations’ core foreign policy objectives after the Second World War. By 1950, however, the Cold War had spread to Asia.
Bulgaria became one of the most important points of entry for Phillip Morris, RJ Reynolds, and other US tobacco companies to penetrate the Iron Curtain into a growing and untapped market. While the direct imports of cigarettes into the Bloc remained limited, Bloc states signed licensing agreements with US companies in the mid-1970s that resulted in the production of Marlboro (Phillip Morris) and Winston (RJ Reynolds) in local factories.
Kacey Manlove chronicles Cambodia’s transformation from a neutral country during the Vietnam War to a totalitarian state led by Pol Pot’s brutal Khmer Rouge communist party in the years after American defeat in South Vietnam.
After the 1967 Six Day War, Palestinian rebel groups moved to consolidate and mobilize Jordan’s Palestinian population to overthrow Jordan’s western-backed monarchy. Although the Jordanian military defeated and drove the Palestinian rebels out of Jordan by 1971, Areej Malley argues that Palestine’s failed attempt to foment revolution in Jordan was a limited success rather than a complete failure.