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The Cold War 1945-1991

‘A World Divided: Superpower Relations, 1944-1990’  is an investigation of the Cold War from its origins up until the final collapse of communism. The focus of the unit is historical controversy; why and how have historians disagreed in their interpretation of the Cold War?

We begin by reviewing the differences between communism and capitalism as systems and reasons for conflict between the USSR and the USA before 1944. We look at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, the Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and the Russian response to them. We investigate the reasons for and the significance of the Berlin Blockade, the signing of Nato and the increasing polarization of the globe.

We go on to study the post-Stalin thaw and the bid for peaceful coexistence: Khruschev and the responses of Dulles, Eisenhower and Kennedy. We explore the development of the arms race and its culmination in the Cuba Crisis. We look at Sino-Soviet relations, the confrontations in Asia and the US response to those confrontations.

We assess the extent of Détente in the late 60s and early 1970s, the SALT talks and Helsinki accords. We consider the impact of Reagan and Gorbachev in the 1980s and analyse the factors behind the eventual collapse of communism.

Throughout the course we will be evaluating the views and interpretations of historians. In the examination students will answer two questions ; the first question requires students to come to a substantiated judgement on a historical problem, the second requires them to come to a substantiated judgement based on analysis of source material and their own knowledge.

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