1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

J.L. Gaddis, The Cold War

Got Love? Strangelove?

Hello, Dimitri?
John Lewis Gaddis' The Cold War: A New History is a nice thematic introduction to the subject. If one is hung-up on chronology, this is not your book. But if you enjoy an author taking themes and weaving them in and out, then Gaddis is for you.

Video and Music Ideas for Teaching the Cold War 

I previously mentioned a couple of Twilight Zone episodes that would be suitable for this era. I didn't mention two real obvious additional choices: "The Shelter" deals with how neighbors and friends treat each other when shelter grows scarce once the Russians launch an attack on the U.S. More about the nature of the human heart and how people deal with crises and our human limits, but the bomb shelter is a nice background.  "Time Enough at Last" is really not about the Cold War or a nuclear holocaust at all but about what makes life ultimately worth living. Fans of J.P. Sartre may be saddened to see his "hell is other people" remark get turned on its head, but others may love the poetic justice. Man does not live by bread (or books) alone.

Video Clips (tbd)

Here's one I haven't found on YouTube: From Whit Stillman's Barcelona: The scene where Lt.(jg) Fred Boynton discovers that there is anti-NATO sentiment in Spain and asks, What are they for? Soviet troops racing across Europe, eating the croissants?  Pure genius!


Coming in at just over 8 minutes The Waterboys' "Red Army Blues" is a heart-breaking but eye-opening narrative about a Russian lad who enlists to fight the Huns and is eventually shipped to Siberia and work and rot -- "all because Comrade Stalin says we've become too 'Westernized'"

I would be remiss in not including the Sex Pistols' "Holidays in the Sun" which though convoluted is interesting with its references to going over the Berlin Wall. Then there's The Call's "War Weary World" which is much deeper than the peppy music would imply.  Or one that the "rads" in erstwhile West Germany seemed to love: Nena's "99 Luftballons" (which loses some but not much of its pathos the English version). 

For lovers of the surreal: Camper Van Beethoven, "Sweethearts".  Who can resist a song that mentions Dixon (CA)? And finally, U2's "Seconds." 

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