In an unstable world, how do you know who your friends and enemies are?

You don’t.

 

The Cold War was international affairs for the second half of the 20th Century. Nuclear weapons testing, civil wars in all corners of the globe and the race for economic dominance were all key spheres of the Cold War, although they were just a few elements of a very complex global puzzle. More so than the great battles between Carthage and Rome in Ancient times or the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold War defined our world. But, there was one key difference between the Cold War and earlier major wars. Due to advances in technology and communications, the Cold War touched most countries on earth.

Get the book on Amazon

This introduction to the middle years of the Cold War tells the story of the great clash between the Communist Soviet Union and the capitalist USA. It considers events in an intriguing age for international relations. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, there were calls to avert the risk of another nuclear near-miss, and this did lead to an improvement in the super-power relationship; however, underneath this improvement, there remained great tension. To further complicate the situation, China and Europe both became increasingly powerful and assertive. In the world of the 1960s and 1970s, it was hard to know who to trust and who to fear.

Get the book on Amazon

The topics in the book include:

  • The Vietnam War and its impact on the Cold War
  • Decolonization and the opportunities that arose from it for the super-powers
  • The growing power of Western Europe and a major change in Czechoslovakia
  • The historic changes in the relationship between Mao Zedong’s China and the super-powers
  • The super-powers as friends? Détente, Richard Nixon, and Leonid Brezhnev
  • The major nuclear agreements and the arms race
  • How serious tensions emerged once more

The approximately 90-page book is the perfect complement to the Cold War History audio series that is available as part of the ‘History in 28-minutes’ podcasts.

We're very excited to bring  you 'Are we Friends or Enemies?', episode 7 of itshistorypodcasts.com's series on the Cold War.

Episode 7 Leonid_Brezhnev_and_Richard_Nixon_talks_in_1973_cropped.JPG

We look at the ever-evolving Cold War relationships between the Great Powers during the 1960s and 1970s, the detente period. We shall see how relations changed between the USSR and the USA after the Cuban missile crisis. Then we’ll discuss the events that led to the USSR and China fighting each other. And we’ll also look at change in the Eastern bloc and a historic meeting between the US and China.

Let us know what you think of the podcast below!

Enjoy!

George Levrier-Jones

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

In this article, Matthew Struth tells us the story of the Summit Series, a number of ice hockey games that took place at the height Cold War. These games took place during détente and were anything but friendly…

 

When the American ping-pong team played in China in 1971, it was seen as a step toward negotiation and cooperation between the USA and China in the Cold War. A year later, Canada made its own attempt to bridge the gap with the USSR, using a game so dear to both nations’ hearts: ice hockey. This was the Summit Series.

The Summit Series, widely considered to be the eight best played and the eight bloodiest and dirtiest ice hockey games of all time, was not called that at the beginning, but it’s a name that has since gained widespread acceptance.

In 1972, Leonid Brezhnev ruled the USSR with an iron but intelligent hand. However, Canada was still dealing with the aftermath of the October Crisis; only the idea of hockey kept even nominal unity in the country. It was in these conditions that Canadian Sports Executive, Joe Kryczka, announced the Canada-USSR Series.

The belief was that the Canadians would easily trounce the Soviets. Even in the Eastern Bloc, the thinking was that Canada would win easily. Orders from Moscow were to play well and win a couple of games. Even the Kremlin didn’t believe the Soviets would win.

The Canadians got one of the greatest wake-ups in their history though: that when it came to hockey, there were others who could match up with the best in the National Hockey League (NHL).

When the first game was done, the Soviets won with a humiliating seven goals to Canada’s three.

A Canadian hockey rink has never been so quiet.

Paul Henderson of Canada celebrating a very important goal in the USSR in September 1972.

Paul Henderson of Canada celebrating a very important goal in the USSR in September 1972.

On to the USSR

The Canadians were devastated. It showed that just because you could pay a player a lot of money, it did not make him the best in the world. The image that Canadians had always had was that they were the best at hockey, that it was their game, but now... Now Canada struggled with identity, a problem it has always been faced with. Then the game turned to war.

The second game in Toronto saw Canada strike back. Vengeance was on Canada’s mind; the Soviets had humiliated them, and they wanted to return the favor. And they did, with a 4-1 win. The Canadian media soon took to derisively calling the Soviet players “robots” for their lack of emotion while playing the game, an insult that the Soviets took as complimentary for hard-working men. The third game was a tie, but tempers on both sides rose.

The fourth game is the one that Canadians like to forget, if only because of the rude and dishonorable way the Canadian team played. Players held down the Soviet goalie, among other acts that today would have a player expelled from the NHL. The nation was mad at the team and began booing them. This was how Canadians played? But worse, it hurt the team. Some on the team, like Ken Dryden, agreed with the fans, and knew they deserved the boos.

The next four games played in Moscow were not about a shared love of hockey but about the ideological war taking place in the world. The players on the ice mirrored the feelings of the opposing sides as blood was drawn and threats were screamed. To the players, particularly Phil Esposito and Paul Henderson, this was the battle between communism and capitalism.

3,500 Canadians made the trip to the very heart of the Soviet world to cheer on their team. To the Muscovites, the sight was confusing and abnormal. The Russian audience was silent and stoic, while beside them Canadians screamed and cheered.

 

Blood on the ice

The first game in Russia and fifth in the series saw another Soviet victory. And in the sixth, Canada won; followed by another win in the seventh game.

It was in the seventh game that the unforgivable happened: Soviet player Boris Mikhailov kicked out several times with the blade of his skate, and Canada’s Gary Bergman suffered the worst of it. Bergman’s shin pad was cut through, and his leg was left bleeding. Mikhailov has always regretted the act.

The final game was infamous for the way it played out. Both teams saw winning as crucial to their way of life. The Soviets changed the referees and ordered them to cheat for the USSR. The move infuriated the Canadians, who were more nervous about their position as more militia men were ordered in. Even the Soviet team didn’t like the calls that were handed out, but they could do nothing. An uncounted goal led to unrest as Canadian hockey agent Alan Eagleson tried to have the goal counted, but he was grabbed by militia men. As they were hauling him away, the Canadian players attacked the militia men and freed Eagleson. In the end, Canada scored the three goals needed to first tie, then win, the game.

The NHL adapted and began to use the Soviet methods of training and drilling after the games, methods still in use today. They also brought in rules and regulations that would lessen the physically violent side of hockey, rules that are still contested and disputed. The Series gave Canadians a boost too; hockey was still their game, and they were the best at it. But it was a more respectful Canada that came out of the Series, one that was less arrogant about their game but could still claim to the world that it was the best at it.        

The Summit Series healed a nation and gave respect to an enemy. Indeed, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russians and other Eastern Europeans were welcomed into the NHL, having more than proven themselves in the Series. A common love for hockey also helped keep the détente period alive, as both sides could now look to a similarity that helped one seem less alien and less of an enemy. But like the détente period, it was not a kind, peaceful event. It was marked by trickery and cheating on both sides, and stood as the example that, though bridges were being built, mistrust and the need to win were a concern on everyone’s minds.

Now, after the hardships of the games have passed, many of the players on both sides look to the others as some of the greatest players ever to hit the ice.

 

You can find out more about détente by reading our introductory ebook about the middle years of the Cold War here.

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

Cold War History - Are we friends or enemies? – From the Vietnam War to Détente – Part 2: 1962-1979 (Required History)

Our new book is FREE INSTANTLY until July 31st. Grab your copy now while you still can!

Get the book on Amazon 

About the book

In an unstable world, how do you know who your friends and enemies are?

You don’t.

The Cold War was international affairs for the second half of the 20th Century. Nuclear weapons testing, civil wars in all corners of the globe and the race for economic dominance were all key spheres of the Cold War, although they were just a few elements of a very complex global puzzle. More so than the great battles between Carthage and Rome in Ancient times or the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold War defined our world. But, there was one key difference between the Cold War and earlier major wars. Due to advances in technology and communications, the Cold War touched most countries on earth.

This introduction to the middle years of the Cold War tells the story of the great clash between the Communist Soviet Union and the capitalist USA. It considers events in an intriguing age for international relations. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, there were calls to avert the risk of another nuclear near-miss, and this did lead to an improvement in the super-power relationship; however, underneath this improvement, there remained great tension. To further complicate the situation, China and Europe both became increasingly powerful and assertive. In the world of the 1960s and 1970s, it was hard to know who to trust and who to fear.

Get the book on Amazon

The topics in the book include:

  • The Vietnam War and its impact on the Cold War
  • Decolonization and the opportunities that arose from it for the super-powers
  • The growing power of Western Europe and a major change in Czechoslovakia
  • The historic changes in the relationship between Mao Zedong’s China and the super-powers
  • The super-powers as friends? Détente, Richard Nixon, and Leonid Brezhnev
  • The major nuclear agreements and the arms race
  • How serious tensions emerged once more

The approximately 90-page book is the perfect complement to the Cold War History audio series that is available as part of the ‘History in 28-minutes’ podcasts.

Get the book on Amazon 

George Levrier-Jones

Posted
AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones