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The Cold War

The Cold War is made up of the years between World War II and 1991. During these years, The United States and the Soviet Union both participated in an arms race that included massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons that threatened the world peace that was so fragile in that time. Watch some clips from the History Channel about the top ten hottest moments of the Cold War:

Top Ten Hottest Moments of the Cold War

Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev worked to try and ease tensions and decrease the mass of weapons that each country had during the 1980’s, and in addition, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the perestroika and glasnost reforms. The end of the Cold War is generally recognized in 1991 when The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving the United States as the dominant military power, though Russia retained much of the massive Soviet nuclear arsenal.

Your assignment is to conduct and make a transcript of an interview with someone living through the heights of the Cold War.

Cold War Interview:

Find someone (Parent, Granparent, neighbor, etc.) that was a child or teenager in the 1950’s or 1960’s. Then interview them about their views of the Cold War. Remember, be courteous and respectful of their time and feelings. Here are some of the basics of conducting interviews:

  • Tell the potential interviewee why you want to speak to him or her and how much time you would like for the interview.
  • Schedule the interview at a time that is convenient for the interviewee.
  • Ask the interviewee if you can use an audio or video recorder during the interview.
  • Make sure you know how to get to the interviewee’s home or office, and get there on time.
  • Be familiar with the questions you want to ask; make sure you have them written out in case you forget them.
  • Make sure you don’t ask simple yes-or-no questions: The interviewer should get the interviewee to talk as much as possible.
  • Make sure you don’t ask questions that you can get answers to in a book. The interviewer shouldn’t waste the interviewee’s time.
  • Have a notebook and pen for taking notes—whether or not the interviewee has agreed to taping the session.
  • Throughout, act patiently and politely. Do not argue with anything your interviewee says.
  • Follow your prepared questions, but be willing to go off in other directions if something the interviewee says intrigues you. That is, listen carefully, and ask follow-up questions that occur to you on the spot.

 

As per our discussion in class, here are some potential questions. Remember, you should replace or add to these if you feel there is a better question for your interviewee.

  • When you were a child, did you hear people talking about nuclear bombs? If so, how did people seem to feel about nuclear bombs? Do you remember if you had any feelings about nuclear bombs when you were a child?
  • Did you understand who the enemy was? What did you think of the enemy? What did you think of the United States as a nuclear power?
  • When you were a child, did your school have air-raid drills? What did the students have to do during an air-raid drill? Why?
  • When you were younger, did you ever hear about or see a bomb shelter? What supplies did people put in bomb shelters? Why? What feelings did you have (and do you have) about bomb shelters?
  • When you were younger, were you afraid that the United States or the world would be blown up by bombs or missiles?
  • Do you remember being young and reading books or seeing movies or television shows about nuclear destruction? How did the books and movies make you feel?
  • Did you stop being afraid of nuclear war as you grew up? Why or why not?
  • How did you feel when Reagan and Gorbachev started talking about reducing nuclear armaments? How do you feel now about the threat of nuclear war?

 

For credit on the interview, you will need to turn in a transcript of the interview, and a few sentances of thoughts of your own. This can be hand written or typed.

 

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