In a substantial new afterword to his classic account of the collapse of American triumphalism in the wake of World War II, Tom Engelhardt carries that story into the twenty-first century. He explores how, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the younger George Bush headed for the Wild West (Osama bin Laden, "Wanted, Dead or Alive"); how his administration brought "victory culture" roaring back as part of its Global War on Terror and its rush to invade Saddam Husseins's Iraq; and how, from its "Mission Accomplished" moment on, its various stories of triumph crashed and burned in that land.
The ways science and technology are portrayed in advertising, in the news, in our politics, and in the culture at large inform the way we respond to these particular facts of life. The better we are at recognizing the rhetorical intentions of the purveyors of information and promoters of mass culture, the more adept we become at responding intelligently to them.
Flash Effect, a startling book by David J. Tietge, documents the manner in which those at the highest levels of our political and cultural institutions conflated the rhetoric of science and technology with the rhetorics of religion and patriotism to express their policies for governance at the onset of the Cold War and to explain them to the American public.
Professor Tietge details our cultural attitudes about science in the early years of the Cold War, when on the heels of a great technological victory Americans were faced with the possibility of destruction by the very weapons that had saved them.
In Flash Effect we learn how, by symbolizing the scientist as both a father figure and a savior -- and by celebrating the technological objects of his labor -- the campaign to promote science took hold in the American consciousness. The products of that attitude are with us today more than ever.
Challenging widely held assumptions about postwar gay male culture and politics, Homosexuality in Cold War America examines how gay men in the 1950s resisted pressures to remain in the closet. Robert J. Corber argues that a form of gay male identity emerged in the 1950s that simultaneously drew on and transcended left-wing opposition to the Cold War cultural and political consensus. Combining readings of novels, plays, and films of the period with historical research into the national security state, the growth of the suburbs, and postwar consumer culture, Corber examines how gay men resisted the "organization man" model of masculinity that rose to dominance in the wake of World War II. By exploring the representation of gay men in film noir, Corber suggests that even as this Hollywood genre reinforced homophobic stereotypes, it legitimized the gay male "gaze." He emphasizes how film noir’s introduction of homosexual characters countered the national "project" to render gay men invisible, and marked a deep subversion of the Cold War mentality. Corber then considers the work of gay male writers Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and James Baldwin, demonstrating how these authors declined to represent homosexuality as a discrete subculture and instead promoted a model of political solidarity rooted in the shared experience of oppression. Homosexuality in Cold War America reveals that the ideological critique of the dominant culture made by gay male authors of the 1950s laid the foundation for the gay liberation movement of the following decade.
In today’s world of rapid advancements in science and technology, we need to scrutinize more than ever the historical forces that shape our perceptions of what these new possibilities can and cannot do for social progress. In Sputnik’s Shadow provides a lens to do just that, by tracing the rise and fall of the President’s Science Advisory Committee from its ascendance under Eisenhower in the wake of the Soviet launching of Sputnik to its demise during the Nixon years. Members of this committee shared a strong sense of technological skepticism; they were just as inclined to advise the president about what technology couldn’t do—for national security, space exploration, arms control, and environmental protection—as about what it could do.
Zuoyue Wang examines key turning points during the twentieth century, including the beginning of the Cold War, the debates over nuclear weapons, the Sputnik crisis in 1957, the struggle over the Vietnam War, and the eventual end of the Cold War, showing how the involvement of scientists in executive policymaking evolved over time. Bringing new insights to the intellectual, social, and cultural histories of the era, this book not only depicts the drama of Cold War American science, it gives perspective to how we think about technological advancements today.
The notion that maternal care and love will determine a child’s emotional well-being and future personality has become ubiquitous. In countless stories and movies we find that the problems of the protagonists—anything from the fear of romantic commitment to serial killing—stem from their troubled relationships with their mothers during childhood. How did we come to hold these views about the determinant power of mother love over an individual’s emotional development? And what does this vision of mother love entail for children and mothers?
In The Nature and Nurture of Love, Marga Vicedo examines scientific views about children’s emotional needs and mother love from World War II until the 1970s, paying particular attention to John Bowlby’s ethological theory of attachment behavior. Vicedo tracks the development of Bowlby’s work as well as the interdisciplinary research that he used to support his theory, including Konrad Lorenz’s studies of imprinting in geese, Harry Harlow’s experiments with monkeys, and Mary Ainsworth’s observations of children and mothers in Uganda and the United States. Vicedo’s historical analysis reveals that important psychoanalysts and animal researchers opposed the project of turning emotions into biological instincts. Despite those substantial criticisms, she argues that attachment theory was paramount in turning mother love into a biological need. This shift introduced a new justification for the prescriptive role of biology in human affairs and had profound—and negative—consequences for mothers and for the valuation of mother love.
The Cold War forced scientists to reconcile their values of internationalism and objectivity with the increasingly militaristic uses of scientific knowledge. For decades, antinuclear scientists pursued nuclear disarmament in a variety of ways, from grassroots activism to transnational diplomacy and government science advising. The U.S. government ultimately withstood these efforts, redefining science as a strictly technical endeavor that enhanced national security and deeming science that challenged nuclear weapons on moral grounds "emotional" and patently unscientific. In response, many activist scientists restricted themselves to purely technical arguments for arms control. When antinuclear protest erupted in the 1980s, grassroots activists had moved beyond scientific and technical arguments for disarmament. Grounding their stance in the idea that nuclear weapons were immoral, they used the "emotional" arguments that most scientists had abandoned.
Redefining Science shows that the government achieved its Cold War "consensus" only by active opposition to powerful dissenters and helps explain the current and uneasy relationship between scientists, the public, and government in debates over issues such as security, energy, and climate change.
“Solovey’s social scientists are neither naïve researchers exploited by the military-industrial complex nor greedy masterminds eagerly anticipating their patrons’ needs. Instead, he presents us with a series of encounters between program managers, disciplinary spokesmen, and political partisans, each of which demonstrates its participants’ unexpectedly complex positions. In what feels like a prelude to contemporary partisan investigations of the social sciences, Shaky Foundations recounts numerous instances of McCarthy-era attacks on social scientists as leftist agitators.” —Science
“Shaky Foundations offers an important new argument about how the American social sciences interacted with wider social and political forces during the Cold War era. Solovey has done very important work in establishing the bitterly contested character of postwar epistemological and institutional shifts.” —Isis
“This is an important book. The brilliance of this book lies in pinpointing the origins of the terms that are still used in contemporary debates on the role of social science in the United States. This book is a critical tool in approaching the most essential question —what’s next for American social science?” —LSE Review of Books
“Solovey leaves readers with a sharpened understanding of the travails of social science research during the first two decades of the Cold War.” —Journal of American History
“Solovey makes a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the development of social sciences in the U.S. during the 20th century. A major achievement is the author’s presentation of this often complicated and complex story in a clearly written and well-documented manner. Highly recommended.” —Choice
“Shaky Foundations impressively pulls back the curtain on American social scientists and their complex relationships with funding agencies, offering crucial insights into the past—and the future—of social science.” —David C. Engerman, author of Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts
“In this clearly written and thoroughly researched book, Mark Solovey takes a new approach to writing the history of the social sciences in America by ‘following the money’ and examining how patrons and their agendas shaped the development of the field.” —Nadine Weidman, author of Constructing Scientific Psychology: Karl Lashley’s Mind-Brain Debates