Entries by coldwarhist

A Failed Propaganda Exercise: Christmas at the Berlin Wall, 1963

For 18 days over Christmas in 1963 there was a rift in the Berlin Wall. For the first time in over two years the 87 mile barrier could be crossed and divided families were — briefly — reunited. A ‘border pass agreement’ — Passierscheinabkommen — between the West Berlin Senate and the East German government meant […]

‘Post-fact’ political debates aren’t new

Following Brexit and Trump’s victory, there’s a big push to highlight the emergence of a new ‘post fact’ political environment. There’s even a new BBC guide to help journalists understand statistics rather than take them at face value. But problems with the reliability of facts — and statistics in particular — is nothing new. Ever since […]

Review of True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy

Find on Amazon US / Find on Amazon UK / Find in a Library What is the book about? Noel Field was an unrepentant Stalinist who betrayed his country, exacted a terrible cost on his family for doing so, and died living behind the iron curtain in Hungary. True Believer tells his story. ‘Noel Field began […]

Fall of the Wall 25 Year Anniversary

51.86 km: that’s how far I walked over the ‘Fall of the Wall 25’ weekend, getting around the city and following the Lichtgrenze – the light border. You can find some background to Berlin’s largest ever public art project here, here, and here. 100 ‘Wall Story’ panels were dotted along the route. These stories have been collated […]

A History of Peace Through Strength in the 1970s

The term ‘Peace Through Strength’ has a long history, dating from the ancient world. It remains a popular phrase in American politics, often seen as epitomising Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy. The history of the term ‘Peace Through Strength’ in the 1970s is a little more complicated, however, as this post will show. Detente It was actually […]

Dr Strangelove Would be Proud: How to Hide a Nuclear Missile

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union was introducing all kinds of intimidating weapon systems. After its Cuban Missile Crisis experience, Kremlin leaders wanted to ensure the USSR would never again be outgunned, a sort-of ‘Cuban Missile Syndrome.’1 As a result, during the 1970s the USSR added new nuclear missile systems. The SS-18 ‘Satan’:  Zubok, Vladislav M. A Failed […]

The Butter Battle Book: Which Side Do You Butter Your Toast?

Published in 1984, Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book is about two societies, the Yooks and the Zooks, who disagree on which side their toast should be buttered. An arms race ensues. This is a classic cold war analogy that was turned into a cartoon in 1989. It’s available to watch on Youtube, and here’s […]