The Cold War was not really a "War" - nobody sent in troops, and for the most part, there were no deaths. However, from 1945 to 1960 democratic and communist nations were in the midst of an economic, propagandist, and diplomatic war that ended after diplomatic tensions were eased.
After World War II, the European powers had declined, and many had been destroyed. The main source of political power was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States. This caused tensions between the two governing bodies that were only exasperated by the Truman Doctrine and the USSR's communist presence in Eastern Europe. As communism started to expand into other countries such as Turkey and Greece, the U.S. grew increasingly alarmed. These poor relations between the U.S. and the USSR in addition to the Berlin Crisis created the Cold War.
Another tension creator was the launch of Sputnik I on October 4, 1957 by the Soviet Union. This simple satellite was capable of orbiting the Earth in 98 minutes and broadcasting a "BEEP" signal that could be picked up by radio operators. The satellite, itself, was as large as a beach ball, but was encased in polished aluminum as Russian engineers wanted it to be seen from space by the naked eye. This launch caught the world off guard. The U.S. government feared that if the USSR could launch objects into orbit, it could easily launch a nuclear weapon at North America. This lead to the creation of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and started the Space Race.
However, other events, that will play out in October and November 1957, showed that the relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. improving. In the Hungarian revolt, the United States did nothing to assist the Hungarian rioters. In the Suez crisis of the same year, the United States did not help the British and the French in their attack on Egypt. Instead the United States co-operated with Soviet Russia in condemning the Anglo-French attack. Up to 1960, peaceful co-existence between the East and the West seemed to have been accepted by both the United States and the Soviet Union.
Many historians believe that events from the Cold War provided the "push" (more like, "punch") for plans concerning better course work in school systems, especially those pertaining to mathematics and the sciences.
Connection to tropes
During this "war" Mental Labor started becoming of more value then Physical Labor because the winner need to be able to create, construct, and engineer better then the enemy. Another link between the Cold War and the class tropes are Men's Work vs Women's Work. During the Cold War, men were the predominant working force. For example, men like Verner Von Braun and President Eisenhower were big names during this time. However, women began working along side men, but many for unequal pay and opportunities.  Machine labor could also be linked to the Cold War because this is the era where the computers were used more then ever. Also, technology is the cause for the entire cold war. Without the large arms race and the technology of nuclear weapons, there would have been no cold war. Technology affected society by causing a long, tense arms race, and society affected technology by attempting to build even more powerful weapons to use against enemies.
Connection to reading
The Cold War was a time of large economic and military expansion and a time of uncertainty towards another nation and their powers. This can be seen in Frankenstein as Dr. Frankenstein develops new medical practices but pushes the boundaries too far and creates a monster that is stronger, physically, and just as smart as a Doctor. Dr. Frankenstein suffers from his creation to the point where he feels he must kill it for the betterment of humanity and to avenge his murdered bride. This can be linked to world's fear of nuclear war. A nation could create a weapon (some could say a weapon is a monster) so devastating that it could end humanity as we know it. Thankfully, these "monsters" were not unleashed.
It was also a time where Mental Labor began to be more important than Physical Labor. LeGuin wrote the The Dispossessed around this era and her main character provides more Mental Labor than Physical Labor and is an important asset to Urras's society (which could be debated to model ours). After the launch of Sputnik I, the United States felt it needed a stronger education system in which science and mathematics were a larger part of the curriculum. This is because the U.S. needed more scientists and engineers (Mental Labor) to compete in the Space and Arms race. This change in the education system can be seen today. Students come from all over the world to study in the United States' great University System.
In addition, the Cold War created a large amount of innovative technology. A multitude of different technologies and organisations to run these were created. For example, Russia's space program as well as NASA and other organizations were created. Each organization engineered different launch vehicles to travel into space. The technologys for these vehicles are still used today for space travel. In addition, objects that we use every day were created during the Cold War. For example, microwaves and an early version of the internet was created and used for military purposes before the technology was released to the general public . Science Fiction authors can use these ideas in their stores. The idea of space travel and powerful computers (and wonderful technologies, in general) can be used by science fiction authors. For example, the idea that large vessels can travel through space easily for traveling and transporting goods can be seen in the The Dispossessed, The Stone Canal, and The Secret Sharer. In addition, the idea that Shevik, a human, lived on another planet can be sparked by the event where man landing on the moon.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Poon, H.W. (1979) Adapted by TK Chung. (March 5, 2007). Cold War 1945-1960. Retrieved March 7, 2010, from http://www.thecorner.org/hist/europe/coldwar.htm
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Garber, Steve (October 10, 2007). Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Age. Retrieved March 7, 2010, from http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/
- ↑ Nebraskastudies.org, University of Nebraska in Lincoln, & Nebraska Department of Education. (n.d.) Living in an Atomic Age - The Space Race Retrieved March 7, 2010, from http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0900/stories/0901_0105.html
- ↑ Toppo, G. (October 3, 2007). Sputnik heralded space race, focus on learning. Retrieved March 7, 2010, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-10-03-sputnik-education_N.htm
- ↑ Georgia Institute of Technology. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.oie.gatech.edu/
- ↑ (2008). http://www.microwave-ovens.com/whoinventedthemicrowave.cfm