Texts about the Cold War

Short stories and speeches

The Tree of War

The story takes place in England and references the nuclear threat that was felt by English citizens. During the 1980s, while Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States, the relationship with the Soviet Union changed for the worse, while the threat of nuclear war scared citizens.


The story takes place during the Cold War. The period of time depicted in the story corresponds to the final stage of the Cold War, when massive anti-nuclear protests were taking place worldwide.

There Will Come Soft Rains

This science fiction story gives a terrifying depiction of the aftermath of a future nuclear attack on the US. The story does not feature any conventional characters, but is rather focused on the actions of an automated house, which continues to perform its functions despite its inhabitants having been killed in a nuclear blast. The story was first published in 1950, just after the Soviet Union gained access to nuclear weapons. 

John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address

John F. Kennedy made this speech when he was inaugurated as President. The speech covers a range of topics, but among other things Kennedy promises to protect the free people of the world from those who seek to oppress them. 

Ich bin ein Berliner

The US President’s speech from 1963 is a reaction to the construction of the Berlin Wall, and it represents a promise by the US to support and protect West Berlin. Kennedy’s speech is a provocative address towards the Soviet Union and the communist system, which he thinks must be condemned and should not be present in Germany.

Tear down this wall

In this 1987 speech, US President Ronald Reagen addresses Gorbachev and urges him to tear down the Berlin Wall and let Germany become reunited.

Other texts

Below are further suggestions for texts or movies that may be relevant when working with the Cold War. We do not currently have study guides for these texts, but maybe you can be inspired to look for some of these titles yourself.

  • Alfredson, Tomas - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011 movie)
  • Anthony, Peter - The Man Who Saved the World (2014 documentary)
  • Briggs, Raymond - When the Wind Blows (1982 graphic novel)
  • Clancy, Tom - The Hunt for Red October (1984 novel)
  • Deighton, Len - The IPCRESS File (1962 novel)
  • Gaddis, John Lewis  - The Cold War: A New History (2006 book)
  • George, Peter - Red Alarm (1958 novel)
  • Gorbachev, Mikhail - Memoirs (1995 memoir)
  • Khrushchev, Nikita - Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev (2006 memoir)
  • Kubrick, Stanley - Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964 movie)
  • le Carré, John - The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963 novel)
  • McEwan, Ian - The Innocent (1990 novel)
  • Moore, Alan - Watchmen (1986-1987 comic book series)
  • Reed, Carol - The Third Man (1949 movie)
  • Schepisi, Frederic - The Russia House (1990 movie)
  • Venyamin, Dorman - The Secret Agent's Blunder (1968 movie)
  • Vonnegut, Kurt - Cat’s Cradle (1963 novel)