After World War II, just before the mid-twentieth century, a new war began- the cold war. This war would put two of the worlds super powers against each other; the democratic and capitalist united states against the communist Soviet Union. By mid-1950s, the war had raised tensions in both countries- working its way into the lines of everyday life. This fire was further fanned by the arms race, espionage and counter-espionage between both countries and the rising threat of nuclear weapons. These tensions would span decades and included the space race which was another dramatic avenue for competition between the two countries to demonstrate superiority over the other in innovations and political-economic system by extension. All the Kings Horses and The Manned Missiles are two short stories that reflect the actual international backdrop of events at the time. This paper will show this reflection and how each of the stories portrays Americas communist adversaries.
All the Kings Horses
All the kings horses is a short story whose setting is based in the early years of the cold war in the early 1950s giving a presence of two communist leaders- one from Russia and the other from China. During this era, America was in intense rivalry with the Soviet Union. It was during this period where there was a perceived threat by countries that practiced communism and Russia was one of them. During the world war, Russia had allied up with the Americas to defeat German and overthrow Hitler. However, when the war was over, Russia, which was now termed the Soviet Union took some nations in Eastern Europe under control and took on the communist ideal to its country and countrymen.
China was also another large communist country. Communism gained traction in the country after the communist party won the civil war, taking control over mainland China in 1950. In the story, an American colonel, his family, and his team find themselves captured by the communist Gorilla leader in Asia. Here the Colonel is forced to play the game of chess with his team as pieces in the presence of a Soviet Union leader. Each loss means a man dies. Both countries- the Soviet Union and China at the time, controlled resources in the country and gave people very little rights. There were much less freedom and rights. This is depicted from the story where the Pi Yang freely kills people just for sport. This similarity in both countries explains why All the King Horses presents both the communist leader from China and the Soviet Union together.
The international events in the authors memory that were recent in the time he was writing this story were during the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO). During this time, the United States with support from some European countries were trying to defend Europe from the Soviet Unions powers. Communist forces by this time were taking control of mainland China, and the United States was also helping the nationalist government. We can assume that this is the reason the book talks about an American plane getting to Asia, which was to help the nationalist government. Since the communist governments controlled all the communication and transportation, it is no surprise that the American planes occupants are captured and kept as prisoners when they crash in the Asiatic lands.
The Russians resented Americans and this is clearly depicted in the story where Barzov asserts that the Americas are always the enemy, regardless of the existence or non-existence of war.
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The Manned Missiles
The international events in the authors memory that were recent in the time he was writing this story was an insane competitiveness between the cold war rivals- the United States and the soviets union. The story is written around 1957 when there was a turning point in the new space age In the manned missiles; two fathers write to each other after their son’s death in space whose role was to symbolize superiority of one country over the other. The time that this was written is termed as the space race and it was prompted by the missile-based attacks during the World War II. Technology supremacy was seen as integral to the winning of wars, symbolic superiority and national security. This competition began around 1955 when the Soviet Union beat the United States beat the United States in launching a satellite into outer space.
America could not stand not being the first to invent everything . The United States, which prided itself in making inventions, found it quite unexpected at the time when the Soviet Union launched its satellite- Sputnik. It was visible and public to Americans, letting them know that they would not always be in the lead. It was in this climate that the manned missiles were written. This explains why the writer presents the American as going to space not to attain any new knowledge but to take the knowledge that the Russians had already attained. Regardless of this, both countries show contempt for both sons who die in space .
The book brings out an emotional tale about two fathers who are reminiscing their sons- their kindness and love. They do this in correspondence oblivious of the fact that Russia and America do not see each other eye to eye.
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Portrayal of Americas Communist Adversaries
All the kings horses depict the Soviet Union, a communist country as one that would not mind the destruction of the Americans. If he wanted to help them, he would have managed. In the story, Barzov mentions that the only reason stopping him from actually killing the Americans is that they (both countries) are not yet at war. Before this, he was reluctant to intervene on their behalf and ask the gorilla communist to set them free saying that he was not in a position to. This was a lie. The story also shows that the communist nations- the Soviet Union and China had the same ideal, thats why they were in the same court. Here the China communists are portrayed as less merciful and with an intense hate for Americans even more than the Soviet unions. This is shown when Pi-yang is very excited to have the Americans killed and has no intention of giving them mercy. This story also shows that America is a super power and communists were always trying to defeat it. Nobody liked it when America won. This is seen when both the China gorilla communist and the Russian official try desperately to be the winner of a game of chess against the American official. This story also shows how immoral communist leaders were with Pi Yang having a young girl by his side.
In the manned missiles, the Soviet Union is depicted as one that would want to be superior in technological innovation. They launch a satellite to space with confidence since they know America is a little behind in the technology. The result is, however, tragic when the Americans send one of their own and the discord between the two leads to their deaths. However, the book shows even though the Soviet Union and America were at war, at an individual level, people from both sides would be very happy to reconcile as the fathers in the book do . It shows that governments control individuals like puppets for their gain using them to start fires that could be avoided.
Both books indicate that the Soviet Union was a very competitive communist country always hungry to out-do the United States. All the kings horses, however, give a dimmer picture about the Communist countries showing their willingness to defeat the United States in any way possible. Both stories also try to depict that there is still some good in humanity and that often values will always supersede ego. We can conclude that both the communist nations- China and the Soviet Union had a unified desire to be better than the United States.