This concise historical narrative by a prize-winning Cold War historian covers the entire Cold War period from the Yalta Conference of 1945 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This book analyzes the Cold War and the various ways that it impacted American life: how it stimulated the economy, was a primary agent of social cohesion (at least until the Vietnam War), greatly inflated presidential power, and was at all times a formidable cultural and intellectual presence. It shows that the Cold War's influence was sometimes palpable, as during the McCarthy years and the Vietnam 'conflict', and was at other times merely a backdrop, as during the civil rights movement and the loosening of cultural restraints in the 1960s. This book also explores the uneasy co-existence of the era's conservative American political structure and private realm of techno-business volatility and radical popular culture. For the student or scholar of American foreign relations, as well as general readers, this book is an excellent introductory overview of a crucially important period in American history.