The Cold War: What We Know Now (That We Didn’t Know Then)

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Duration 01:08:51

University of Pennsylvania

Susan Lindee is a Janice and Julian Bers Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Associate Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Lindee has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund 40th Anniversary Award, as well as support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.


Despite common understandings of the Cold War, it was not actually a bipolar “long peace” or simply an ideological clash between communism and capitalism, that ended in 1989. As we now know, it was as hot any other war. It was not just about ideology. And it did not end in 1989.

The Cold War arms race transformed the Earth. It brought technologies, weaponry, people, air bases, missiles, and detonations to places once invisible, inhospitable, irrelevant, and unknown – including tropical paradises, frozen landscapes, deserts, islands, and to airless, cold places in space and the upper atmosphere and under the sea. These were sites of engineering and scientific feats of astonishing scale and cost, including missile silos in Greenland’s moving ice, massive bunkers underground, and ambitious new satellites that circled in space and took surveillance photographs even of the most inaccessible landscapes of the USSR.



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Maggie Olmstead

Not what I was expecting

Fascinating and disturbing – much more so than I thought from reading the title of this lecture.

2 years ago
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