As a baby-boomer, nothing haunted me more than the looming threat of nuclear war and the annihilation of civilization itself. I sweated out the Cuban Missile Crisis at the age of 11, and at the age of 16 was totally freaked out by "The War Game" a movie made for the BBC that was not aired because of its graphic nature. My point being that I consider this a vital lesson to any student's education.
This lesson provides an overview of the nuclear arms race to the end of the Cold War and beyond. It first gives an overview of how the industrial revolution's rapid technological growth made total war obsolete. It then looks at how a whole new set of diplomatic "rules" had to be implemented to prevent nuclear holocaust. It also focuses on just what happens in a nuclear explosion, the potential effects of a nuclear war, the types of weapons systems that evolved, government propaganda, and changing public perceptions of nuclear war .
Ironically, this story has a happy ending, because the fear of nuclear war kept the peace until the US and USSR resolved the issue through a series of agreements, at first limiting and eventually neutralizing the nuclear arms race. This is an unparalleled event in human history and a hopeful sign that human civilization may be growing up. Recent talks between India and Pakistan indicate the same may be happening with them as well. Time will tell.
This chapter also includes a student reading, my own research notes, and a color flowchart. The PowerPoint shows the color flowchart on this topic developing slide by slide, while lecture notes scroll down the side. There are also extensive photos and propagana with captions mixed in to illustrate the lesson and capture students’ interest.
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