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The cold war--the bitter standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union--lasted for over 50 years and polarized the world. The conflict had its roots in political and ideological disagreements dating back to the Russian Revolution of 1917--disagreements that intensified in the wake of World War II. Allan M. Winkler excerpts speeches by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to demonstrate the growing abyss between the two political systems. President Harry S. Truman's announcement of the existence of a Soviet atomic bomb and his speech to Congress launching the Truman Doctrine testify to the gravity of the situation. The cold war was not always cold --armed conflicts were narrowly avoided in the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs, and war did erupt in Korea and Vietnam. The complex politics of the Vietnam War are represented by voices as divergent as Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh, President Lyndon B. Johnson, antiwar protesters, and a participant in the My Lai massacre.
Cold war paranoia permeated American society. The investigations of writer Ring Lardner, Jr., and government official Alger Hiss by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, along with speeches by Senator Joe McCarthy, lay bare the political repression at home generated by the perceived communist threat. Excerpts from Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and the film script of High Noon capture the mood of uncertainty and fear. A picture essay entitled The Atom Unleashed collects photographs and cartoons to explore one of the most controversial discoveries of the 20th century. Agreements made in the SALT treaties show the cold war finally coming to an end. In his 1992 State of the Union address, President Bush declared, By the grace of God, America won the cold war.