America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years

America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years
Course Trailer
1990: America’s New World Order
1: 1990: America’s New World Order

The end of the Cold War was an inflection point in history. No one expected the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, but starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. Delve into the American story in the early 1990s, when conflicts in Kuwait and Bosnia tested America’s new role in a post-Soviet world.

29 min
The Clintons and the 1990s
2: The Clintons and the 1990s

Bill Clinton’s presidency dominated the domestic news in the 1990s. From his dramatic showdown with Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress’s “Contract with America” to the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s subsequent impeachment trial, this was a presidency of high drama. Survey this tumultuous decade in American history.

29 min
A New Millennium, George W. Bush, and 9/11
3: A New Millennium, George W. Bush, and 9/11

The end of the Cold War may have reshaped the world order, but 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror completely transformed America. Go back to the contested election of 2000 and trace the events leading up to the terrorist attack on American soil on September 11, 2001. Learn why 19 hijackers of three airplanes attacked America, and what happened next.

28 min
The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
4: The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Historians will long discuss and debate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As you will learn here, the war in Afghanistan had some justification, given the role of al-Qaeda in 9/11. Professor Allitt also reviews the facts surrounding the war in Iraq—the path to war, the deterioration on the ground, and the war’s effect on the United States.

29 min
The US Economy: Long Boom to Big Crash
5: The US Economy: Long Boom to Big Crash

The 1990s through the mid-2000s have been called the “great moderation,” a period of generally low inflation and stable growth. Within that period, the dot-com boom and bust created ripples, but it was the mortgage crisis that struck a seismic blow to the U.S. economy. Witness the booms and busts of this fascinating period in business.

28 min
Obama, Hope, and Polarization
6: Obama, Hope, and Polarization

In 2008, America was tired of war and entering a deep recession. President Obama was seen as a beacon of hope, yet his administration soon ran into intractable foreign and domestic challenges. Examine the major events of his presidency, from the bank bailouts and health care reform to the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS.

28 min
African American Paradoxes after 1990
7: African American Paradoxes after 1990

Despite progress from the Civil Rights movement a generation earlier, race is a dominant theme in American history through the 1990s and 2000s. Here, Professor Allitt investigates the paradoxes and racial conflicts of the last 30 years, from the Rodney King riots to the Black Lives Matter movement. He also spotlights positive developments.

27 min
Science and Technology in the Internet Age
8: Science and Technology in the Internet Age

The last 30 years of American history have been a golden age of inventions. The personal computer, social media, the smart phone, and apps have changed everything about how we operate in the world. Meanwhile, scientists of all kinds—astronomers, paleontologists, geneticists—have redefined our understanding of humans and our place in the universe.

29 min
US Energy Independence and Climate Change
9: US Energy Independence and Climate Change

Industrialization requires energy, but energy comes with a host of negative side effects, from local pollution to global climate change. Explore the shifting status of energy in the U.S. through the 1990s and 2000s, from the Kyoto Protocol to the IPCC and from “cap and trade” policy efforts to policies promoting solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.

30 min
Putting US Education to the Test after 1990
10: Putting US Education to the Test after 1990

Is America a society where no child is left behind? As this analysis of American policies toward education demonstrates, the U.S. education system leaves much to be desired, even as our universities remain among the very best in the world. From standardized tests to charter schools, take a tour of America’s school system.

30 min
A New Golden Age of American Culture
11: A New Golden Age of American Culture

From the old guard of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow to the next generation of novelists—Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, Viet Thanh Nguyen—American fiction is livelier than ever. But it isn’t just books: Television, the visual arts, architecture, and even theater (with productions like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton) are enjoying an artistic golden age.

29 min
The Trump Upset
12: The Trump Upset

History truly is full of surprises—and is still being written. In this closing lecture, you’ll survey one of the most surprising political events in recent decades: the election of President Donald Trump. From his use of social media to controversial policies and more, review the milestones of Trump’s presidency (so far).

29 min
Patrick N. Allitt

Nostalgia is the enemy of history. 'Downton Abbey' is great fun but it's not history. If seeing or reading something historical makes you feel warm and cosy, it's probably very inaccurate.


University of California, Berkeley


Emory University

About Patrick N. Allitt

Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt-an Oxford University graduate-has also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow. He was the Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching and Curriculum from 2004 to 2009, where he looked for ways to improve teaching. In this critical administrative position, he led workshops on a wide variety of teaching-related problems, visited dozens of other professors' classes, and provided one-on-one consultation to teachers to help them overcome particular pedagogical problems. Professor Allitt was honored with Emory's Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2000 was appointed to the N.E.H./Arthur Blank Professorship of Teaching in the Humanities. A widely published and award-winning author, Professor Allitt has written several books, including The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History; Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985; Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome; and Religion in America since 1945: A History. He is also author of I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom, a memoir about one semester in his life as a university professor. In addition, he is the editor of Major Problems in American Religious History. He has written numerous articles and reviews for academic and popular journals, including The New York Times Book Review.

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