Cold War (1945–91)

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What are potential essay topics about the Cold War?

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This is a very broad topic, and hopefully your study will be more guided than the list of questions I will provide. Here are some questions that I have used on previous tests:

1.) Who deserves the blame for the Cold War?

I use this as a historiography question, as the thinking on this question depends on which historian you use.

2.) Were the leaders of the developing world pawns in the Cold War game, or did they successfully use the major powers in order to achieve their independence?

3.) Why did the Cold War end?

4.) Is the United States safer now that the Cold War is over?

5.) Have American–Russian relations improved since the end of the Cold War?

6.) What were some of the positive effects of the Cold War for the United States?

7.) How did the Cold War affect Americans domestically between 1945 and 1980?

There are many questions one could use depending on the ability of the student and the depth of one's own study. These are only a sample of questions that I have used either on discussion boards or exams in a college setting.

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There are, of course, many possible essay questions that could be asked about this war.  For example:

  • "Whose fault was it that the Cold War began?"  You could ask this a little differently as "What actions and attitudes on the parts of various actors caused the Cold War to begin?"
  • "What caused the end of the Cold War?"
  • "Was the Cold War a more dangerous or a less dangerous time than the time since the Cold War ended?"
  • "Were US actions in the Cold War consistent with the idea of defending democracy?"

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