History 118 term paper

For History 118, students will be required to write an eight page term paper on a major text produced by a Cold War era figure. The paper should reference class readings and a secondary biographical source to answer the following questions: what ideology or philosophy did this person espouse, or what role did this person play during the Cold War era? How did this book fit into the framework of the Cold War  . . .  or did it?

My presentation on writing the paper.

Here is a list of suggested books.

Chinua Achebe, Hopes and Impediments (1988). The author of Things Fall Apart ponders questions like the value of universalism.

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), or Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963).

Menachem Begin, The Revolt: The Story of the Irgun (1977).

Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths (1962).

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949).

Eugene Burdick and William Lederer, The Ugly American (1958).

Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Madness (1978).

Milovan Djilas, The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (1957).

W.E.B. DuBois, The World and Africa (1946).

Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961).

Dario Fo, We won’t pay! We won’t pay! (1974). A theatrical revolt against supermarket prices in the age of “stagflation.”

Michelle Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975). How does Foucault’s view of history challenge the typical Cold War “great event” view of history?

Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963). A classic feminist text that historicizes the fate of feminism through World War II and the Cold War.

Peter George, Red Alert (1958). The inspiration for the movie Dr. Strangelove.

Vasily Grossman, Everything Flows (1961).

Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Development in Latin America (1975).

Evgenia Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind (1967). 18 years in Stalin’s labor camps. A personal account.

Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955). A personal power struggle between the representatives of two empires for the hand of a Vietnamese woman.

Valcav Havel, The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe (1985).

Henry Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace (1973) or Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957).

Herman Kahn, On Themonuclear War (1959).

Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism (1976).

Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers (1970).

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984); or The Joke (1967).

Ji-Li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution (1998). A remembrance of the divided loyalties engendered by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (1962).

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (1947) or The Periodic Table (1975).

Naguib Mahfouz, Adrift on the Nile (1966), or another Mahfouz novel from that time.

Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (1964).

Rigoberta Menchú, I Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (1984); you might also want to read Arturo Arias’ The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy for this paper.

Gamal Nasser, Egypt’s Liberation: The Philosophy of Revolution (1955).

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (1946).

Amos Oz, A Perfect Peace (1985).

Norman Podhoretz, Why We Were in Vietnam (1983).

Jean-Francois Revel, Without Marx or Jesus (1972).

Walter Rodney, How Europe Undeveloped Africa (1981).

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981).

Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Vital Center (1949).

Edward Said, Orientalism (1978).

Nevil Schute, On the Beach (1957).

Sukarno, Sukarno: an autobiography (1965).

Jean Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960).

Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth (1982).

Leopold Senghor, On African Socialism (1964).

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), or The Gulag Archipelago (1973).

Mario Vargas Llosa, The Time of the Hero (1963) or Conversation in the Cathedral (1969) or War of the End of the World (1981) or  The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (1983)

Ludvik Vaculik, The Axe (1966).

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle (1963). The atomic bomb, the fate of the planet, and the search for “Ice-Nine,” all in one classic novel.

William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959).

Checklist and term paper rubric


1. Does your paper have a clear argument that appears in the first paragraph of your essay’s first page?

2. Does your paper offer a clear conclusion that recapitulates your argument?

3. Does your paper cite your class text and a second source on your author?

4. Does your paper reference all quotes and factual claims?

5. Are you using a generally recognized reference system like MLA or Chicago Style?

6. Is your paper double spaced with page numbers inserted on each page?

7. Have you spell checked and grammar checked your paper?

8. Have you checked for errors that a spell checker cannot find?

9. Does your paper include a short bibliography listed after the conclusion?

10. If you mention my name on your first page, is my name correctly spelled?

11. Are the names of your principal historical figures correctly spelled?

12. Are you taking pains to avoid plagiarism in this paper?


Excellent paper: explores a clearly articulated original argument which is bolstered by a strong narrative and referenced evidence. The writing is compelling and free of spelling or grammatical errors. The paper itself is competently presented (see items 5 through 10).

Very good paper: explores an argument with competent writing and references. The paper contains no spelling or grammatical errors and is competently presented.

Satisfactory paper: explores a vague but identifiable argument with adequate writing and references. The paper contains some errors but is competently presented.

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