Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, October 1986
Mal Langsdon / Reuters

George Shultz was the nation's last Cold War secretary of state. When he came to office in the summer of 1982, the conflict with the Soviet Union appeared to have entered a phase more intense and threatening than it had been in a generation. Fears of a nuclear war were widespread. When he left office six and a half years later, Soviet-American relations were better than they had been since the years immediately following World War II. By the close of 1988 the stage was set for the end of the great rivalry that had dominated world politics and American foreign policy

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