Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon The Cold War: What Actually Happened

Published in 1959 Alas, Babylon tells the story of what could have happened in the Cold War. The Cold War lasted from the 1940s all the way to the 1990s, and its events unfolded quite differently than what Pat Frank imagined. One thing that was the same, though, was the day-to-day apprehension many American citizens felt; though there never was a true nuclear attack, the fear that there would be was sometimes crippling.

Following is a timeline of the actual events of the 20th century Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union:

1945 - World War II ends with the defeat of Germany and Japan. In February, Vladimir Putin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (leaders of the "Big Three" powers, the U.S.A, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) meet at the Yalta conference, and the Soviet Union is given control of Eastern Europe. In July, the Potsdam Conference outlines the conditions for the occupation of Germany. The Cold War begins.

1947 - The Truman Doctrine offers U.S. assistance to all countries threatened by communism. The Marshall Plan outlines an extensive aid program for the reconstruction of post-WWII Europe, hoping to bolster economies so they can fight off communism.

1948 - Communist control spreads; they take power of Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet blockade of West Berlin (which belongs to the democratic West; East Berlin belongs to the communist East) begins. The Americans must airlift provisions to the isolated city. This blockade is lifted the following year.

1949 - NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is formed between the U.S. and many Western European countries to defend Europe against Soviet aggression. Communism reaches China as Mao Zedong and his forces take over.

1950-1953 - The Korean War is fought, with Korea divided into the Soviet-occupied North and the U.S.-occupied South. It is the first armed conflict of the Cold War.

1954 - The United States CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) assists in overthrowing Guatemala's communist government. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) is formed, like NATO, to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War begins as Vietnam is divided into communist North Vietnam and non-communist South Vietnam. (U.S. involvement, however, began in 1961 and lasted until 1973).

1955 - The Soviet Union and Eastern European communist countries form the Warsaw Pact as a rival defense against NATO.

1959 - Forces led by Fidel Castro take over the Cuban government, and it becomes communist.

1961 - The Berlin Wall separates East Berlin and West Berlin. The Alliance for Progress is formed to combat Latin American communism. The Bay of Pigs invasion, with the U.S. aiding Cuban exiles attempting to overthrow the communist government, fails.

1962 - The U.S. discovers Soviet missile installations in Cuba, initiating the Cuban Missile Crisis. Under President John F. Kennedy the U.S. begins a naval blockade on Cuba, and warns the Soviet Union that any attack of theirs will be met with immediate retaliation. The Soviet Union withdraws its missiles, and the U.S. withdraws theirs in Eastern Europe.

1964 - The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allows President Lyndon B. Johnson to send troops to South Vietnam.

1972 - President Richard Nixon is the first U.S. leader to visit communist China, which improves Cold War relations. The Soviet Union and the United States sign Strategic Arms Limitation Theory I (SALT I), which limits the creation of mass weapons, notably nuclear missiles.

1973 - The CIA helps to overthrow Chile's socialist government, which was led by Salvador Allende.

1979 - The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, initiating a war that would last until 1988.

1985 - Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union, and begins to stray away from old communist policies.

1987 - Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Regan sign the INF treaty, mandating that they remove medium and short-range nuclear missiles.

1989-1990 - The Berlin Wall falls, and East and West Germany are reunited.

1991 - U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Talk (START) to further disarm both nations of their nuclear weapons. When the Soviet Union is dissolved, breaking up into independent republics, the Cold War officially ends.