Year of the Dragon

2012 is a year of the dragon, as were 2000, 1988 and the auspicious year 1976. 1976 was a year of turmoil and tremendous change in China. Both Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong died, leaving a power vacuum. After the Gang of Four was defeated, the innocuous Hua Guofeng was head of the government as Deng Xiaoping consolidated control. 1976 marked the end of the '10 lost years' - the Cultural Revolution and its disastrous aftermath. When reading memoirs of the youth ...

Khrushchev: the Berlin Crisis and beyond

After watching a video on the Berlin Wall one of my students commented that the Americans didn't need any more propaganda than the wall to show the difference between communism and democracy. In a recent post I remarked that August was the 50th anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall, but the wall was only part of the story. In fact, Berlin remained a center of tension in the Cold war, and a number of historians on both sides of ...

It was 21 years ago today …

This is the annniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. In retrospect it seems so obvious that the Soviet sphere was teetering on collapse: Poland's Solidarity had once again re-emerged as a force and Czechoslovakia was protesting. East Germany was seen as the Soviet Union's staunchest supporter, but the floodgates were opened when the government announced that the borders wold be opened. The reasons for this have been recounted by numerous historians with a number of perspectives, but what is ...