1st Edition

The Essential Speeches of the Cold War A Primary Source Collection

By Sean Brennan Copyright 2025
    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is a primary source collection of thirty speeches of the Cold War from 1917 to 1991, representing a cross section of leaders on all sides of the conflict from North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

    As ideological conflict between superpowers returns to the world, it is more essential than ever to understand the superpower conflict which dominated the second half of the previous century. The Cold War was fought with rhetoric and propaganda as much as economic or military strength. The Essential Speeches of the Cold War explores all stages of the Cold War from its origins after the Russian Revolution to its conclusion with the collapse of the Soviet Union seven decades later, offering a clear understanding of its history and turning points as told through its public diplomacy. Each speech has a historical introduction written by the author, as well as extensive historical footnotes discussing its significance and historical context.

    This useful guide to how the rhetoric used during the Cold War helped shape our modern world will be a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate scholars of the conflict, as well as for students of modern political rhetoric in international relations.


    1. Leon Trotsky Calls for World Revolution, November 8, 1917

    2. Adolf Hitler Predicts the Cold War, April 2, 1945

    3. Josef Stalin Argues the Laws of History Will Soon End the World War II Alliance, February 9, 1946

    4. Winston Churchill Discusses the Fall of the Iron Curtain, March 5, 1946

    5. The Truman Doctrine, March 12, 1947

    6. George Marshall Gives the Most Important Commencement Address in History, June 5, 1947

    7. Andrei Zhdanov Announces a World Split in Two, September 22, 1947

    8. Ernest Bevin Warns of the Soviet Threat, January 22, 1948

    9. Ernst Reuter Announces West Berlin Will Not Give In, September 9, 1948

    10. Mao Zedong Announces the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, October 1, 1949

    11. Joseph McCarthy Searches for the Enemies Within, February 9, 1950

    12. Douglas MacArthur Declares There Is No Substitute for Victory, April 16, 1951

    13. Dwight Eisenhower Offers a Chance for Peace, April 16, 1953

    14. Nikita Khrushchev Denounces Joseph Stalin, February 25, 1956

    15. The Last Speech of Imre Nagy, November 4, 1956

    16. Fidel Castro Calls Out President Kennedy, October 23, 1962

    17. John F. Kennedy Declares, “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”, June 26, 1963

    18. Charles de Gaulle Bids Au Revoir to NATO, February 21, 1966

    19. Leonid Brezhnev Announces His Doctrine, November 13, 1968

    20. Richard Nixon Plans a Change in Cold War Tactics, July 25, 1969

    21. Gerald Ford and the Height of Détente, August 1, 1975

    22. Jimmy Carter Calls for a New Approach to the Cold War, May 22, 1977

    23. Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire, March 8, 1983

    24. Lech Walesa Speaks for the Captive Nation of Poland, December 10, 1983

    25. “You Cannot Imagine It Unless You’ve Been There”: Mikhail Gorbachev Admits to the Disaster at Chernobyl, May 14, 1986

    26. Reagan Calls for the End of the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987

    27. Helmut Kohl Calls for a Reunited Germany, December 19, 1989

    28. George H.W. Bush orders Chicken Kyiv, August 1, 1991

    29. Boris Yeltsin Stands His Ground, August 19, 1991

    30. Gorbachev Announces an End to the Twentieth Century, December 25, 1991


    Sean Brennan is a Professor of History at the University of Scranton and an expert on the history of 20th-century Europe and the Cold War. He is the author of Warren Austin, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, and the Cold War at the United Nations, 1947–1960 (2022).