A Century of Struggle: International Relations 1914-1989

History 162B

Fall 2018
145 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 12-1pm
Class Number: 

Following the collapse of Soviet communism, it appeared to many Western observers that capitalist liberal democracy had slain its last viable foe. From this perspective, the “short twentieth century” from 1914-1991 was a triumphant emergence from the barbarism of two total wars, and an evolution towards a stable and enduring international order. But throughout that short century, states and people around the world imagined and fought for a very different future. It was in fact these struggles that shaped today’s world, both in its admirable achievements and its increasingly obvious failings and fragility.
This course investigates the spectacular and often traumatic geopolitical movements of the twentieth century, including the world wars, Communist revolutions, imperialism and decolonization, and in particular, the global Cold War. Lectures and readings will emphasize the influence of human beliefs, and their relation to political structures, on the unfolding of this international history. While our actors, institutions and perspectives will range widely, we will keep our eyes throughout on the evolution and interplay of capitalist and socialist ideologies, in European crises and in U.S.-Soviet relations, as well as in the conflicts and upheavals of decolonization in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.