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PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITY: The Cold War - Class 3: Fall of Empires

December 16, 2021
7:00pm - 8:30pm

Calendar Event Photo

Class 3: "Fall of Empires" with instructor Dr.  Joseph Laker

Dr. Laker will talk about decolonization, discussing the three main phases of Empire building and the empires built, the reasons that the empires began to decline and disappear, and finally the consequences of colonialism both for the colonized and the colonizer.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Joe Laker is Emeritus Professor of History at Wheeling Jesuit University and a Board Member of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. Following his graduation from Marian College with a degree in history, he spent two years teaching English conversation in Kyoto, Japan. He returned home to seek advanced degrees at Indiana University and received his Ph. D. in history in 1975. He spent the next 33 years at Wheeling Jesuit University. He has written a number of articles on various aspects of Japanese and world history. Since retiring in 2008, he has written a history on Wheeling Jesuit and a variety of articles on West Virginia history.

People's University: The Cold War
The "Cold War" was the crucible by which the United States was transformed into a global superpower and laid the basis for the national security state. The ideological and geopolitical competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union shaped the global and regional makeup of the modern world. A driver for the development of both conventional and nuclear forces, the Cold War played out not just between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, but also in Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, indeed, the entire world, leaving legacies that continue to influence global politics in the twenty-first century. We'll look at the origins and developments of the conflict, from containment, the red scare, the space race, the building and tearing down of the Berlin Wall, to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will also explore memories and events of Wheeling and the state of West Virginia during the period and end by examining how the Cold War is still impacting the world today. 

Class 1: Dec. 2 — Introduction: Iron Curtain Rising. What was the Cold War? — Instructor Dr. Gary Kappel
Class 2: Dec. 9 — Wars of Containment — Instructor Dr. Gary Kappel
Class 3: Dec. 16 — Fall of Empires — Instructor Dr. Joe Laker
Class 4: Dec. 21 (Tuesday) — The Second Red Scare — Instructor Dr. Hal Gorby
Class 5: Dec. 30 — More Bombs, Bigger Bombs, Better Bombs — Instructor Dr. Gary Kappel
Class 6: Jan. 6 — A Global War — Instructor Dr. Joe Laker
Class 7: Jan. 13 — Reagan and Gorbachev — Instructor Dr. Korcaighe Hale
Class 8: Jan. 20 — Epilogue, Duck and Cover: Is the Cold War Over? — Instructor Dr. Korcaighe Hale

Class starts at 7:00 pm in the Library Auditorium. This program will be available to watch live on Facebook Live, on YouTube, and on the OCPL website's People's University: The Cold War Livestream page Log into your Facebook or YouTube account during the program to leave questions for our presenters in the comments box. They will answer them during the live broadcast. 

Thursday | December 16, 2021 at 7:00 pm
LWB LIVESTREAM: The Cold War - Class 3: "Fall of Empires" with instructor Dr. Joe Laker

The Cold War: A New History,  by John Lewis Gaddis. (Penguin Press, 2005)
[Reserve a copy from the Library  |  Stream the audiobook with your OCPL library card through WVDeli or HooplaDigital ]

book coverThe "dean of Cold War historians" (New York Times) now presents the definitive account of the global confrontation that dominated the last half of the twentieth century. It began during the Second World War, when American and Soviet troops converged from east and west. Their meeting point-a small German city-became part of a front line that solidified shortly thereafter into an Iron Curtain. It ended in a climactic square-off between Ronald Reagan's America and Gorbachev's Soviet Union. In between were decades of global confrontation, uncertainty, and fear. Drawing on new and often startling information from newly opened Soviet, Eastern European, and Chinese archives, this thrilling account explores the strategic dynamics that drove the Cold War, provides illuminating portraits of its major personalities, and offers much fresh insight into its most crucial events. Riveting, revelatory, and wise, it tells a story whose lessons it is vitally necessary to understand as America once more faces an implacable ideological enemy.

➤ View all books about the Cold War available at the Library
➤ View all books about the Cold War available through WVDeli
➤ View all books about the Cold War available through Hoopla


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In 1951, the Ohio County Public Library's librarian, Virginia Ebeling, referenced British historian Thomas Carlyle, who said, “the public library is a People’s University,” when she initiated a new adult education program with that name. Miss Ebeling charged the library with the responsibility of reaching “as many people in the community as possible.” In keeping with that tradition of public libraries as sanctuaries of free learning for all people, the Ohio County Public Library revived the series in 2010.

The People’s University features courses (taught by experts in each subject) that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, music appreciation, philosophy, and literature. Patrons may attend as many classes as they wish. There are no tests of other requirements and all programs are free and open to the public. For more information about PU: The Cold War, EMAIL US,  visit or call the library at 304-232-0244.

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