In his landmark study of the United States, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville
wrote in 1835 that America and Russia "seem called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in [their] hands the destinies of half the world." Over a century later in 1945, Tocqueville's words rang eerily true as the United States and the Soviet Union stood victorious over the Axis Powers. Their wartime cooperation had soured into a broken and distrustful relationship that would at times become extremely tense in the coming decades. Indeed these superpowers did hold the destiny of
perhaps the entire world in their hands.
Generally when one thinks of the Cold War, no single image comes to mind. For those old enough, we may remember Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather on the evening news in the 1980s talking about "increased tensions" between the United States and the Soviet Union. We might
recall images of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev shaking hands. We might remember seeing soldiers and missiles parading by the reviewing stand in Moscow as stone faced members of the Communist Party looked on. Others may remember diving under their desks in school preparing for an assault of Soviet missiles launched War Games style in a thermonuclear
showdown. Aside from these hazy images, what sums up the Cold War?
Taken from the holdings of The National Archives at Atlanta, these images represent the underlying themes of East versus West that made the Cold War a real threat for much of the twentieth century.