The hottest historical figures of the global Cold War? and the winners are . . .

JFK with daughter Caroline.

JFK with daughter Caroline.

In the final exam for my Global Cold War class, I give my students a two point bonus question: who was the hottest historical figure of the Cold War? I allow them to define “hot” any way that they wish: in terms of brilliance, looks, leadership, intellect, charisma, or style.

Here are the winners:

John F. Kennedy: 17 votes
Mikhail Gorbachev: 7
Gamal Abdel Nasser: 4
Leonid Brezhnev: 3
Ronald Reagan: 3
Brigitte Bardot: 2
Robert McNamara: 2
Richard Nixon: 2
Anwar Sadat: 2
Josef Stalin: 2
Margaret Thatcher: 2

A host of picks got one vote apiece: Willy Brandt, George Kennan, Jackie Kennedy, Ayatollah Khomeini, Douglas MacArthur, Nelson Mandela, Ho Chi Minh, Marilyn Monroe, Pierre Trudeau, Harry Truman, and Kurt Vonnegut.


Nasser, exuding historical hotness.

I was happy that Nasser got 4 votes. I’ve always thought that he was the most strikingly handsome figure of the Cold War.

I got one vote, too. Flattery will get you everywhere.

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