The U.S. and the Cold War

Oh, Sheathe Your Sickle! The cold war antagonists Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon did not mince words, translated or otherwise, in 1959.

The end of WWII brought an uneasy peace as former allies turned into cold warriors. The Cold War began with the partition of Germany and ended spectacularly with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In between is a fascinating history of red baiting, bomb shelters, liberation movements and espionage. James Bond was a creation of the cold war, so was Joseph McCarthy. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book on the topic. This will give you an overview of the subject and help you to refine your search. 

Check out the starting your research project page before you begin! 
Some suggestions are:
the history of the Solidarity movement in Poland
the space race
the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy
the Alger Hiss Case

We can't fit every resource about the Cold War on to this list! A topi guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Arms, Thomas S. (1994). Encyclopedia of the Cold War. REF 909.82 Ar5 1994
Gale Group. (2001). History behind the headlines : the origins of conflicts worldwide. REF 909 H62 2001
Klingaman, William. (1996). Encyclopedia of the McCarthy era. REF 973.918 K68 1996
Winkler, Allan M. The Cold War : a history in documents. REF 909.82 W72 2000 Primary sources!


Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, editorials and photos
Gale Virtual Reference Library
General Reference Center Gold
Routledge Reference Resources


Books about the Cold War will be found at 909.52 or 940.55. Books about McCarthyism are at 973.921. Finally, books about the anti-communist crusade are found at 327.73. Use the subject heading Cold War when searching the library catalog. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name (for example, a biography of Nikita Khrushchev would carry the call number: 921 Khrushchev).

Bodden, Valerie. (2008). The Cold War. 909.52 B63 2008 48 pages.
Brager, Bruce. (2004). The Iron Curtain : the Cold War in Europe. 940.55 B73 2004 162 pages.
Fitzgerald, Brian. (2007). McCarthyism : the Red Scare. 973.921 F57 2007 96 pages.
Seed, David. (1999). American science fiction and the Cold War literature and film. This is an e-book you can access through our catalog.
Warren, James. (1996). Cold War : the American crusade against world communism, 1945-1991. 327.73 W25 1996 288 pages.


For these Gale Group Resources, use the subject term: Cold War, 1945-1991. You can also search for more specific topics: try Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 or Red Scare, CA. 1947-1955. Ask one of the librarians if you need help developing a list of search terms.
General OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
Student Edition
Academic OneFile
Biography Resource Center For information on famous people associated with WWII. Search by the person's last name.
History Study Center
SIRS Copy this subject heading: Cold War and paste it into the search field. You can also try more specific subject headings, such as McCarthy, Joseph (1908-1957)

Internet sites

The Cold War Museum A timeline with links to many short, authoritative articles about the Cold War. Affiliated with the Smithsonian, this museum has traveling exhibitions and a substantial on-line collection.
National Archives The British perspective.
Wilson Center Primary sources.
BCDS librarians also recommend these sites, which you can see on our Delicious page!

BPL: Electronic Resources

History Study Center This resource was designed just for students! Start here to learn more about the Cold War, see a timeline of important events, learn about key people and places. An excellent starting point for your research.
History Resource Center: U.S.. A good starting point for pre-search and fact-checking as well as more advanced searches. Use the subject search Cold War, 1945-1991. This site will also let you limit your searches to reference, biographies, periodicals, news, primary sources or maps and multi-media.
America: History and Life. This database indexes scholarly and popular articles on American history. You can limit your search to full text if you want articles instead of citations.

Myers, S. (2007) "No Cold War, Perhaps, but Surely a Lukewarm Peace", New York Times. Retrieved on November 15, 2008 from 18/weekinreview/18myers.html

Updated, 9-10