'Cold War' Series: Window to Past and Future

By Silbergeld, David L. L. | National Defense, September 1999 | Go to article overview

'Cold War' Series: Window to Past and Future


Silbergeld, David L. L., National Defense


There is good news for those who missed the first broadcast of CNN's stunning series, "Cold War." The 24-part video package can be purchased directly from the network. It is well worth seeing.

Cold War is, on the one hand, a recapitulation of the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States. But it also could be a preview of the next cold warthe coming confrontation between the United States and China. Viewers get to see previously classified materials, documents, and stories from both sides. The story is strengthened by eyewitness interviews that provide rare insight to the political views of the times.

The documentary presents archival film and interviews that spanned the conflict years of 1945 to 1991. It is certainly an ambitious and detailed piece, rivaling the acclaimed "World At War." This is no accident, since "Cold War" was co-produced by Sir Jeremy Isaacs, who was responsible for the monumental World War II documentary.

Clearly, history students have one lingering memory of the Cold War era-the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Older folks will get a fresh look at such past household words as Potsdam, Checkpoint Charlie, Dr. Strangelove, Cuban Missile Crisis, DMZ, SALT, Chile and Allende, the Dominican Republic, and Contras, to name but a few. Previously secret Soviet film footage shows a Russian CIA mole being arrested, stripped and humiliated by KGB agents. Such scenes provide a graphic feel for the life and death drama that comprised this superpower game.

CNN founder Ted Turner invested more than $12 million on the project, which included filming in 31 countries over three years. It required a team of 50 researchers, writers and filmmakers, who amassed about 520 interviews, 1,500 hours of reference material and more than 1,000 hours of original film footage. It was certainly a race with the clock, since many of the key participants died in recent years. …

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