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Researching the Cold War in recent months—I’m working on a new book—I’ve kept finding that the conflict has already begun to blur and recede from American minds. Even though the cold war ended just before they were born, for instance, I find that my own teenaged children possess only the vaguest recognition of the conflict. They can provide me with serviceable one- or two-sentence summaries of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the First and Second World Wars, but not of the Cold War. The Vietnam War ended badly—they know that. And they recall having come across a paragraph or two in their high school history books about a conflict in Korea. But the cold war itself? The complete arc? Blank stares.
Is there any objective way in which I can demonstrate this, do you suppose? Any illustration involving not anecdotes but data? Polling information, perhaps, showing that more Americans can name the decade in which (say) the Civil War took place than the decades in which the Cold War unfolded? Or a study of high school textbooks, maybe, showing that fewer pages are devoted to the Cold War than to the Second World War? Ricochet readers, I think we can all agree, represent the most literate and best-informed in cyberspace. If any of you can point me in the right direction help, I’d offer you my gratitude—and there’s no truer graditude than that of a writer who’s been helped over a rough spot—and a really sweet mention in the acknowledgements.