Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

A Precursor to the Downfall: Living Through Soviet Perestroika and Glasnost

The international community hoped great changes would come to the Soviet Union after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in March 1985 and demonstrated his willingness to distinguish himself from the previous Soviet leaders. Gorbachev reversed the precedent of invariably praising the Soviet system when he criticized the inefficient Soviet economy in a speech delivered in […]

I, Spy?  Diplomatic Adventures during Soviet-American Détente    

Among the challenges of serving as a U.S. diplomat in the USSR during the Cold War years of 1945 to 1991 were the certain knowledge that one’s words and actions were being monitored and reported back to the host – and often hostile – government. Intelligence gathering was carried out by both sides to learn […]

Siberia and Samizdat: Moscow’s Underground During Communism

Long regarded as a monolithic entity where any dissension was ruthlessly suppressed by the KGB, Western audiences often ignored the intellectual culture of the Soviet Union. However, this viewpoint dismisses the underground scene of Soviet dissidents who played a critical role in speaking out against and documenting the abuses of the regime. Whether through human […]

From Russia with Love and Back Again: Rostropovich’s Exile and Return

Mstislav Rostropovich, considered one of the greatest cellists of the twentieth century, was born in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan in 1927. Graduating from the Moscow Conservatory, Rostropovich quickly established himself as the preeminent concert cellist in the USSR, collaborating with composers such as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Britten. In 1955 he married Galina Vishnevskaya, a […]

Frank Carlucci, Cold Warrior

Frank Carlucci III is best known for his tenure as Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration, yet in his 2000 interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy, Carlucci narrates his journey through the Foreign Service, CIA, and prominent defense roles that span the course of the Cold War. Carlucci discusses the Congo’s volatile communist regime under Patrick Lumumba, […]

The Times They Are a-Changin’—Labor’s Role in the Foreign Service

The United States underwent great political change following the end of World War II, not only fully abandoning its isolationist tendencies, but also contending for and succeeding in establishing international preeminence against the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War. During the same time period, the U.S. additionally witnessed political change in its […]

North Yemen: Ambassador to a Divided Land

Yemen has experienced violence and poverty in recent decades, but for centuries was a pivotal crossroads for trade and travel. Once the center of civilization, commerce and wealth on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen prospered through agriculture and the cultivation and marketing of spices and aromatics. In the twentieth century, Yemen was cleaved in two separate nations […]

Chipping Away at Czechoslovak Communism: The Helsinki Final Act and Charter 77

The Solidarity Movement. Perestroika and Glasnost. The fall of the Berlin Wall. All of these movements, policies, or events had a tremendous influence on the dissolution of communism in Eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War. While not attributed the same attention and certainly less well known, many diplomats operating behind the Iron […]

“The Cold War Was Truly Over” — The 1986 Reykjavik Summit

After the 1985 Geneva Summit, where President Ronald Reagan and leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, met for the first time, the Reykjavik Summit, held on October 11-12, 1986, presented an opportunity to try to reach an agreement between the two sides on arms control. While Gorbachev wanted to ban all ballistic missiles and limit the talks […]