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Two decades after the end of World War II, Soviet-American tensions came to define international politics. Each country devoted economic and political energies into military development, resulting in what many call the "arms race." The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 caused grave concern in the United States and around the world that a nuclear war was inevitable. Tensions, however, began to ease with the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and by the end of the decade a general "thawing out" of relations began to take shape. This general "thawing out" has been termed by various scholars as the emergence of the detente.

However, recent scholarship by Jeremi Suri, in particular his 2003 book Power and Protest, challenges this narrative. Suri argues that the detente was rooted in concerns over domestic unrest, rather than the political stalemate of the arms race. His global history looks at the rise of social and political unrest in China, France, Czech Republic, and the United States, which emerged on the promises by such charismatic leaders as De Gaulle in France, Kennedy in the U.S., and Khruschev in the Soviet Union. Each leader made grand promises, from the New Frontier to real communism, that inspired their contituents to challenge the Cold War binary. The 1968 protests that gripped the world was the product, he argues, of unkept promises. The widespread unrest that their promises unleashed had a direct effect on each country's foreign policy.

Jeremi Suri's book opens up new ways to examining the peak Cold War period, beyond the political leaders and governments.

Klimke, Plummer (?)

Relationship to the world: Klein, Brands, Rotter

Another recent trend in historical scholarship is to examine "development" as a historical artifact, one that shaped relations between the United States and the world

Immerwahr, Elkbadh,