The Cold War was the continuing state of conflict, tension and competition that existed from the mid-1940s to the early 1990s between the Western allies (led by the United States) and the Communist Bloc (led by the Soviet Union). The global influence of the Cold War means that, inevitably, it impinged more than once upon the life of Nick Knight and his vampire family during this period.
For example, during the mid 1950s, the fear of communist influence in the United States led to a period of intense internal scrutiny as people feared to be communist were rooted out of jobs in government, the entertainment industry, and education. At that time, Nick was an Associate Professor in the Archaeology Department at the University of Chicago; and he was called to testify at one of the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
A decade later, Nick went to one of the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain, following the trail of a magical book called the Abarat, a copy of which he believed to be in a library in East Berlin. In order to gain the assistance of the staff, he offered to help them escape under the Berlin Wall to freedom in the West.
Only a few years later, Nick went to Vietnam with the Red Cross in the hope of providing aid to civilians caught up in the Vietnam War. This was one of the so-called "proxy wars", fought in obscure parts of the globe, in which the major powers were able to test each other's strength and resolve with less risk of escalating the conflict into a global war like World War II. When Nick went to the Vietnamese village of Bin Loc to vaccinate the children living there, he became witness to its massacre by American soldiers.
As far as is known, Nick was never directly involved in events that shaped the direction of the Cold War; but inevitably it influenced his decisions and movements.
The Soviet Union, the United States, Britain and France were allied against the Axis powers during the last four years of World War II. At the war's conclusion, most of Europe was occupied by those four countries, while the United States and the Soviet Union possessed the two most powerful military forces. There were, however, many disagreements on policy both during and after the conflict, and none was greater than the vision each saw for the future of the globe after the war ended.
The Soviet Union created an Eastern Bloc of the portion of Europe that it occupied at war's end. Some were annexed directly to become Soviet Socialist Republics. Others were maintained as satellite states that would later form the Warsaw Pact.
The Western Allies, particularly the United States and western European countries (which were geographically close to the new Eastern Bloc), began a policy of "containment" of communism. To this end, they coordinated efforts to rebuild western Europe, including western Germany (which the Soviets opposed). They also forged various alliances, most important of which was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In other regions of the world, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia, the Soviet Union fostered Communist revolutionary movements, which the United States and many of its allies opposed. Many countries were prompted to align themselves either with the countries that would later form NATO or with the Warsaw Pact countries.
The Cold War was a disparate period of alternating tension and calm. On the one hand, international crises arose, such as the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), and the Vietnam War (1959–1975). But there were also periods when both sides sought détente. Direct military attacks on adversaries were deterred by the potential for mutual assured destruction using nuclear weapons.
The Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s and the early 1990s as the Soviet Union began to suffer from severe economic stagnation. It collapsed in 1991, leaving the United States as the dominant global military power.
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article on the Cold War.