Michael Kazin (Professor of History, Georgetown University)
November 10, 2011
Between 1947 and 1991 the Cold War touched virtually every aspect of life in the United States. At the height of the conflict in the 1950s and 60s, our anxieties magnified the Soviet Union into an enemy so militarily powerful and diabolically sly that it seemed destined to conquer us through invasion or subversion. We established a military-industrial complex to shield us, built an interstate highway system to move troops, and dug fallout shelters to insure our survival. We projected our fears in nightmarish films about alien invaders and body snatchers. Abroad we practiced containment; at home we promoted conformity. All this while increasing affluence and a baby boom as well as sweeping political and cultural change transformed American society. How did the Cold War chill life in the United States, and how did it turn up the heat?