This introductory chapter captures in brief the strained relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in the years following World War II. In particular it looks at the Olympic Games, indicating that, for U.S. officials, the war would also largely be fought in the trenches of public opinion. And in order to win what has so frequently been called a “battle for hearts and minds,” U.S. policymakers increasingly deployed techniques of persuasion that they referred to as propaganda or psychological warfare, which manifested in the way the U.S. employed culture against the Soviet Union—among them, sports. The chapter goes on to emphasize the significance of sports and the Olympics in understanding a facet of these Cold War relations, and lays out further contextual details as well as the thematic groundwork for the rest of this volume.
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