There have been many studies on the forced relocation and internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. But An Absent Presence is the first to focus on how popular representations of this unparalleled episode in U.S. history affected the formation of Cold War culture. Caroline Chung Simpson shows how the portrayal of this economic and social disenfranchisement haunted—and even shaped—the expression of American race relations and national identity throughout the middle of the twentieth century. Simpson argues that when popular journals or social theorists engaged the topic of Japanese American history or identity in the Cold War era they did so in a manner that tended to efface or diminish the complexity of their political and historical experience. As a result, the shadowy figuration of Japanese American identity often took on the semblance of an “absent presence.” Individual chapters feature such topics as the case of the alleged Tokyo Rose, the Hiroshima Maidens Project, and Japanese war brides. Drawing on issues of race, gender, and nation, Simpson connects the internment episode to broader themes of postwar American culture, including the atomic bomb, McCarthyism, the crises of racial integration, and the anxiety over middle-class gender roles. By recapturing and reexamining these vital flashpoints in the projection of Japanese American identity, Simpson fills a critical and historical void in a number of fields including Asian American studies, American studies, and Cold War history.
Athan Theoharis, long a respected authority on surveillance and secrecy, established his reputation for meticulous scholarship with his work on the loyalty security program developed under Truman and McCarthy. In Abuse of Power, Theoharis continues his investigation of U.S. government surveillance and historicizes the 9/11 response.
Criticizing the U.S. government's secret activities and policies during periods of "unprecedented crisis," he recounts how presidents and FBI officials exploited concerns about foreign-based internal security threats.
Drawing on information sequestered until recently in FBI records, Theoharis shows how these secret activities in the World War II and Cold War eras expanded FBI surveillance powers and, in the process, eroded civil liberties without substantially advancing legitimate security interests.
Passionately argued, this timely book speaks to the costs and consequences of still-secret post-9/11 surveillance programs and counterintelligence failures. Ultimately, Abuse of Power makes the case that the abusive surveillance policies of the Cold War years were repeated in the government's responses to the September 11 attacks.
The image of the shadow in mid-twentieth-century America appeared across a variety of genres and media including poetry, pulp fiction, photography, and film. Drawing on an extensive framework that ranges from Cold War cultural histories to theorizations of psychoanalysis and the Gothic, Erik Mortenson argues that shadow imagery in 1950s and 1960s American culture not only reflected the anxiety and ambiguity of the times but also offered an imaginative space for artists to challenge the binary rhetoric associated with the Cold War.
After contextualizing the postwar use of shadow imagery in the wake of the atomic bomb, Ambiguous Borderlands looks at shadows in print works, detailing the reemergence of the pulp fiction crime fighter the Shadow in the late-1950s writings of Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, and Jack Kerouac. Using Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious, Mortenson then discusses Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s shared dream of a “shrouded stranger” and how it shaped their Beat aesthetic. Turning to the visual, Mortenson examines the dehumanizing effect of shadow imagery in the Cold War photography of Robert Frank, William Klein, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Mortenson concludes with an investigation of the use of chiaroscuro in 1950s film noir and the popular television series The Twilight Zone, further detailing how the complexities of Cold War society were mirrored across these media in the ubiquitous imagery of light and dark.
From comics to movies, Beats to bombs, Ambiguous Borderlands provides a novel understanding of the Cold War cultural context through its analysis of the image of the shadow in midcentury media. Its interdisciplinary approach, ambitious subject matter, and diverse theoretical framing make it essential reading for anyone interested in American literary and popular culture during the fifties and sixties.
In American Fiction in the Cold War Thomas Hill Schaub makes it clear that Trilling’s summary was in itself a mythic reconstruction, a prominent example of the way liberal writers in the late 1940s and 1950s came to terms with their political past. Schaub’s book brilliantly analyzes their efforts to reshape an “old” liberalism alleged to hold naively optimistic views of human nature, scientific reason, and social progress into a “new,” skeptical liberalism that recognized the persistence of human evil, the fragility of reason, and the ambiguity of moral decision.
Most important, as American Fiction in the Cold War demonstrates, these liberal reassessments of history, politics, human nature, and destiny—what Schaub calls the “liberal narrative”—mediated the critical and imaginative production of the literary community after World War II. Schaub shows that the elements of this narrative are visible in a wide spectrum of cultural narratives in American history, political philosophy, and social criticism during the Cold War era. His analysis of the dominant critical communities of the late 1940s—led by critics such as Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe, Cleanth Brooks and Allen Tate—recovers the political meanings embedded within their debates over the nature of literary realism, the definition of the novel, and speculations on its “death.”
In the second part of his study, Schaub turns to Ralph Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, Norman Mailer, and John Barth. His readings of their fiction isolate the political and cultural content of works often faulted for their apparent efforts to transcend social history. Reviewing John Barth’s End of the Road, for example, he shows the politics of culture concealed within what seems to be a philosophical narrative. In novel after novel, he demonstrates, the liberal narrative is operating from within, tuning and steering the direction of the plot and the creation of the character. Schaub’s penetrating exploration of the relationship between U.S. political and social thought and the literary consciousness in the early postwar years will be of interest to intellectual historians and to students of American literary culture.
American Girls and Global Responsibility brings together insights from Cold War culture studies, girls’ studies, and the history of gender and militarization to shed new light on how age and gender work together to form categories of citizenship.
Jennifer Helgren argues that a new internationalist girl citizenship took root in the country in the years following World War II in youth organizations such as Camp Fire Girls, Girl Scouts, YWCA Y-Teens, schools, and even magazines like Seventeen. She shows the particular ways that girls’ identities and roles were configured, and reveals the links between internationalist youth culture, mainstream U.S. educational goals, and the U.S. government in creating and marketing that internationalist girl, thus shaping the girls’ sense of responsibilities as citizens.
The end of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR produced strikingly little enthusiasm in the United States. The political energy absorbed for forty years by American-Soviet relations left America no triumphant, but reflective, turning inward with a general sense of national decline. American politics and policy have met the rapid changes in the new global order with alarming slowness and inflexibility.
In this book, fourteen leading political scientists ask two basic questions. What effect did the cold war have on American institutions and politics? And how will American politics evolve now? The first section of the volume focuses on institutions-the presidency, Congress, federalism. The second explores politics-ideologies, public opinion, and the American party system. The third section tackles important policy areas: the budget, social issues, education, foreign policy, trade, and immigration.
Contributors: Joel D. Aberbach; Tobias Dürr; Andreas Falke; Adrienne Héritier; Peter Lösche; Theodore J. Lowi; Heinz-Dieter Meyer; Demetrios G. Papademetriou; Paul E. Peterson; Bert A. Rockman; James Thurber; David B. Walker; and the editors.
The American labor movement seemed poised on the threshold of unparalleled success at the beginning of the post-World War II era. Fourteen million strong in 1946, unions represented thirty five percent of non-agricultural workers. Why then did the gains made between the 1930s and the end of the war produce so few results by the 1960s?
This collection addresses the history of labor in the postwar years by exploring the impact of the global contest between the United States and the Soviet Union on American workers and labor unions. The essays focus on the actual behavior of Americans in their diverse workplaces and communities during the Cold War. Where previous scholarship on labor and the Cold War has overemphasized the importance of the Communist Party, the automobile industry, and Hollywood, this book focuses on politically moderate, conservative workers and union leaders, the medium-sized cities that housed the majority of the population, and the Roman Catholic Church. These are all original essays that draw upon extensive archival research and some upon oral history sources.
The time is right for a critical reassessment of Cold War culture both because its full cultural impact remains unprocessed and because some of the chief paradigms for understanding that culture confuse rather than clarify.
A collection of the work of some of the best cultural critics writing about the period, American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War reveals a broad range of ways that American cultural production from the late 1940s to the present might be understood in relation to the Cold War. Critically engaging the reigning paradigms that equate postwar U.S. culture with containment culture, the authors present suggestive revisionist claims. Their essays draw on a literary archive—including the works of John Updike, Joan Didion, Richard E. Kim, Allen Ginsberg, Edwin Denby, Alice Childress, Frank Herbert, and others—strikingly different from the one typically presented in accounts of the period.
Likewise, the authors describe phenomena—such as the FBI’s surveillance of writers (especially African Americans), biopolitics, development theory, struggles over the centralization and decentralization of government, and the cultural work of Reaganism—that open up new contexts for discussing postwar culture. Extending the timeline and expanding the geographic scope of Cold War culture, this book reveals both the literature and the culture of the time to be more dynamic and complex than has been generally supposed.
American Spies presents the stunning histories of more than forty Americans who spied against their country during the past six decades. Michael Sulick, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, illustrates through these stories—some familiar, others much less well known—the common threads in the spy cases and the evolution of American attitudes toward espionage since the onset of the Cold War. After highlighting the accounts of many who have spied for traditional adversaries such as Russian and Chinese intelligence services, Sulick shows how spy hunters today confront a far broader spectrum of threats not only from hostile states but also substate groups, including those conducting cyberespionage.
Sulick reveals six fundamental elements of espionage in these stories: the motivations that drove them to spy; their access and the secrets they betrayed; their tradecraft, i.e., the techniques of concealing their espionage; their exposure; their punishment; and, finally, the damage they inflicted on America’s national security.
The book is the sequel to Sulick’s popular Spying in America: Espionage from the Revolutionary War to the Dawn of the Cold War. Together they serve as a basic introduction to understanding America’s vulnerability to espionage, which has oscillated between peacetime complacency and wartime vigilance, and continues to be shaped by the inherent conflict between our nation’s security needs and our commitment to the preservation of civil liberties.
In this groundbreaking study, Bruce McConachie uses the primary metaphor of containment—what happens when we categorize a play, a television show, or anything we view as having an inside, an outside, and a boundary between the two—as the dominant metaphor of cold war theatergoing. Drawing on the cognitive psychology and linguistics of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, he provides unusual access to the ways in which spectators in the cold war years projected themselves into stage figures that gave them pleasure.
McConachie reconstructs these cognitive processes by relying on scripts, set designs, reviews, memoirs, and other evidence. After establishing his theoretical framework, he focuses on three archtypal figures of containment significant in Cold War culture, Empty Boys, Family Circles, and Fragmented Heroes. McConachie uses a range of plays, musicals, and modern dances from the dominant culture of the Cold War to discuss these figures, including The Seven Year Itch, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The King and I,A Raisin in the Sun, Night Journey, and The Crucible. In an epilogue, he discusses the legacy of Cold War theater from 1962 to 1992.
Original and provocative, American Theater in the Culture of the Cold War illuminates the mind of the spectator in the context of Cold War culture; it uses cognitive studies and media theory to move away from semiotics and psychoanalysis, forging a new way of interpreting theater history.
In a brilliant new interpretation, Campbell Craig and Fredrik Logevall reexamine the successes and failures of America’s Cold War. The United States dealt effectively with the threats of Soviet predominance in Europe and of nuclear war in the early years of the conflict. But by engineering this policy, American leaders successfully paved the way for domestic actors and institutions with a vested interest in the struggle’s continuation. Long after the USSR had been effectively contained, Washington continued to wage a virulent Cold War that entailed a massive arms buildup, wars in Korea and Vietnam, the support of repressive regimes and counterinsurgencies, and a pronounced militarization of American political culture.
Anti-Imperialist Modernism excavates how U.S. cross-border, multi-ethnic anti-imperialist movements at mid-century shaped what we understand as cultural modernism and the historical period of the Great Depression. The book demonstrates how U.S. multiethnic cultural movements, located in political parties, small journals, labor unions, and struggles for racial liberation, helped construct a common sense of international solidarity that critiqued ideas of nationalism and essentialized racial identity. The book thus moves beyond accounts that have tended to view the pre-war “Popular Front” through tropes of national belonging or an abandonment of the cosmopolitanism of previous decades. Impressive archival research brings to light the ways in which a transnational vision of modernism and modernity was fashioned through anti-colonial networks of North/South solidarity.
Chapters examine farmworker photographers in California’s central valley, a Nez Perce intellectual traveling to the Soviet Union, imaginations of the Haitian Revolution, the memory of the U.S.–Mexico War, and U.S. radical writers traveling to Cuba. The last chapter examines how the Cold War foreclosed these movements within a nationalist framework, when activists and intellectuals had to suppress the transnational nature of their movements, often rewriting the cultural past to conform to a patriotic narrative of national belonging.
In At Penpoint Monica Popescu traces the development of African literature during the second half of the twentieth century to address the intertwined effects of the Cold War and decolonization on literary history. Popescu draws on archival materials from the Soviet-sponsored Afro-Asian Writers Association and the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom alongside considerations of canonical literary works by Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Ousmane Sembène, Pepetela, Nadine Gordimer, and others. She outlines how the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union played out in the aesthetic and political debates among African writers and intellectuals. These writers decolonized aesthetic canons even as superpowers attempted to shape African cultural production in ways that would advance their ideological and geopolitical goals. Placing African literature at the crossroads of postcolonial theory and studies of the Cold War, Popescu provides a new reassessment of African literature, aesthetics, and knowledge production.