History and YOU!

I’ve said again and again, that we have something like 45 years of Cold War history to talk about.  We started off with the Origins of the Cold War.  The Soviets and American superpowers, each with their own set of allies divide Europe, and by extension the world, up into spheres of influence.

Nuclear Age politics create Brinksmanship, the idea that we should always be completely prepared to go to the Nuclear option when confronted with Soviet power, to go to the Brink of War every time.  Mutually Assured Destruction is the end result of that game.  Mutually Assured Destruction is the concept that says that each side will be utterly destroyed by a nuclear exchange. 

It counts on the fact that the LEAST responsible, LEAST sane group, or person will keep the nuclear peace rather than fight and be destroyed.  A very dangerous game, with no “Reset to Previously Saved Game” option.

We’ve talked about Brinksmanship, and we’ve talked about containment.  The idea that Communism cannot be allowed to spread to new countries.  We end up with the Domino Theory.  The Domino Theory says that once one country falls to communism, then their neighboring nations will be at risk.  We’ll look at this idea closer as we talk about Vietnam.

 But now what? 

I’m taking a slightly different path through the Cold War than I anticipated.  Instead of looking head-on at the individual events that shaped the Cold War, I’ve decided that we should begin to piece together our own theories about what happened.  One way to do that is to examine what it means to be a historian, and how ACTUAL historians go about examining events.

In the last period I introduced the “Primary Source”.  Like I said before, primary sources are the basis of historical research.  Secondary sources are great, and we’re going to use them constantly, but if you want to get your hands dirty and build your own interpretation, you’re going to have to look at the original data.

 So… What does that mean?

In my next post, I’m going to start to talk about something called Historiography.  Put simply, it means the study of how people go about studying history.  People study history differently now than they did in the past.  Interpretations change, new evidence crops up… We examine the evidence differently than we used to.  I won’t go too long on this now… more on this later… I hope you enjoy it.  It really is what makes History exciting.  Makes it more like a mystery to be solved rather than a boring documentary to watch.