Due March 4, 2024 by 5pm

On Monday, March 4, students will submit a 3-5 page typed, double-spaced essay on the origins of the Cold War from a question provided to them in class on Thursday, Feb. 29. All essays must feature source material from the course site, including the Gaddis book, cited using Chicago-style footnotes. Outside research is allowed but not required. Essays will be graded on depth of analysis, use of evidence, and quality of prose. Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points each day.


Please choose ONE of the follow essay topics:


  • How and why did the Truman administration’s approach to the Cold War change between 1945 and 1953?




  • Did the foreign policy achievements of the Truman administration in the early years of the Cold War outweigh its failures?


Annotated Guidelines

  • Relevant reading assignments for this essay include John Gaddis’s Strategies of Containment and other sources featured on the course site.
  • Please open your paper with a descriptive title and your name (byline).
  • Make sure to address a question and devise a thesis statement that can be effectively argued in a short paper.  Consult the Methods Center handout on How to Write a Thesis Statement 
  • Be specific.  Use examples, dates, statistics and snippets of quotation to support your claims. Outside research is allowed but not required.
  • Make sure you are using and formatting your footnotes correctly.  Provide footnotes for all quotations and highly specific information (such as statistics). See the models below as well as this methods handout on How to Use Footnotes and consult as needed with the library’s Chicago-style guide, but make sure to use sample footnote models for formatting and NOT bibliography examples.
  • Prof. Pinsker will comment on full or partial drafts over email until Sunday evening.  You may also consult with the Writing Center for help with your essay.  Do not work with other students in the course on your answer.

Sample Footnotes

According to John Gaddis, containment was a key doctrine in US Cold War policy. [1]  Any subsequent citation to Freeman can be abbreviated with last name and page number.[2]

[1] John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment:  A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War (Revised and Expanded ed., New York:  Oxford University Press, 2005), 13.

[2] Gaddis, 28.

Essays will be graded on depth of analysis, use of evidence, and quality of prose. Late essays will be penalized up to 5 points each day.

  • Organize your essay in a way that respects chronology and historical context.
  • Use past tense except when describing modern scholarship
  • Avoid first person pronouns, including “our”
  • Take to care to evaluate your sources as you deploy them in your essay.  See this methods post on Evaluating Sources for a helpful overall framework.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of integrating your quoted evidence with some degree of fluidity.  Awkwardly inserting quotations is one of the hallmarks of mediocre undergraduate essays.  Consult this handout from the methods center for a range of good tips.
  • Also, please guard against plagiarism.  Remember our discussion from the very first day of the semester.  Never write your own words while looking directly at your sources, especially secondary sources –unless you are quoting them.
  • And finally, always remember to proofread your work by printing it out and reading it aloud, slowly. See our methods handout on How to Proofreed [sic]