5 Things You Forgot Happened During the Cold War 

  • Cuban missile crisis
Cuban missile crisis
Credit: MPI/ Archive Photos via Getty Images

Not long after the end of World War II, George Orwell published his essay “You and the Atom Bomb.” In it, he considered the repercussions of the Atomic Age following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the political implications of a world “which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbors.” It wasn’t the first use of the term “cold war,” but it was the first in reference to the precarious state of global affairs in the aftermath of the first nuclear strikes. 

The Cold War began in 1947 as an ideological and geopolitical battle for global influence between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies (the Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc). It reached its peak with the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, when the world faced the very real and terrifying threat of a global thermonuclear war. 

The Cold War lasted for almost 45 years, ending with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In such a prolonged period of tension and intrigue, some details are easily forgotten. Here are some of the most fascinating but at times overlooked events that took place during the period, from political tantrums about Disneyland to one man who may very well have saved the world. 

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Nikita Khrushchev Wasn’t Allowed To Visit Disneyland

In September 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev embarked on a state visit of the United States. It didn’t take long before Khrushchev — a famously irritable man — started to complain. Initially, while visiting the Agricultural Experiment Station in Maryland, he allegedly complained that the pigs were too fat and the turkeys too small. A few days later, following a tour of the 20th Century Fox Studios in Hollywood, he had a prickly argument with studio head Spyros P. Skouras regarding the merits of communism. 

His anger peaked, however, when he was told he would not be allowed to visit Disneyland as the crowds created too much of a safety hazard. Khrushchev was furious. He made no attempt to hide his displeasure at not meeting Mickey and friends, stating, “I would very much like to go and see Disneyland. But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide? What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me?” Thoroughly riled, he left Los Angeles the next morning.

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