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The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena Paperback – October 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0674012387 ISBN-10: 0674012380

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674012380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674012387
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In rich, informing detail enlivened with telling anecdote, Cornell historian Borstelmann unites under one umbrella two commonly separated strains of the U.S. post-WWII experience: our domestic political and cultural history, where the Civil Rights movement holds center stage, and our foreign policy, where the Cold War looms largest. After moving swiftly from a 19th century where white consolidation of dominion in the American South and West coincides with Europe's conquest of Africa, and through a Second World War where German prisoners of war are better treated than black soldiers, Borstelmann follows "the nexus of race and foreign relations" through successive administrations as the Cold War develops. Readers deeply familiar with the history of race in America or American foreign policy history may find little that is news here, but by placing the Ole Miss debacle in an international context, or the Marshall Plan in a racial context; by juxtaposing the Bandung Conference and Brown v. Board of Education; by positioning a Selma, March 7, next to the March 8 arrival of marines at Danang, Borstelmann shifts the lens through which we view both the Cold War and the civil rights movement, revealing something new and provocative: the extent to which "domestic and foreign policies regarding people of color developed as two sides of the same coin" and "how those racial lenses helped shape U.S. relations with the outside world in the era of American dominance in the international sphere." No history could be more timely or more cogent. This densely detailed book, wide ranging in its sources, contains lessons that could play a vital role in reshaping American foreign and domestic policy.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Borstelmann (history, Cornell Univ.; Apartheid's Reluctant Uncle) analyzes the history of white supremacy in relation to the history of the Cold War, with particular emphasis on both African Americans and Africa. In a book that makes a good supplement to Mary Dudziak's Cold War Civil Rights: Race and Image of American Democracy (LJ 11/15/00), he dissects the history of U.S. domestic race relations and foreign relations over the past half-century. Like Dudziak, he contends that continuing racial injustice in the United States was not in America's best interest during this era. The Communists competed with Americans for the friendship of the new nonwhite nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia during the Cold War, when America's commitment to freedom abroad conflicted with the absence of freedom for people of color at home. Interestingly, both Borstelmann and Dudziak approach the Civil Rights Movement as international history rather than just American history. This book provides new insights into the dynamics of American foreign policy and international affairs and will undoubtedly be a useful and welcome addition to the literature on U.S. foreign policy and race relations. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Edward G. McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib., Long Beach
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James Tudor on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In The Cold War and the Color Line, Borstelmann evaluates how US domestic and international race relations shaped the Cold War and how the Cold war shaped the domestic and international race relations. From my studies, and I imagine the studies of the majority of average Americans, the civil rights movement, de-colonization, and the Cold War happened in individual vacuums - separate from each other, only linked by common abstract dates. Borstelmann shows these happenings are all highly connected - at times acting as catalysts for another. "There was no greater weakness for the United States in waging the Cold War than inequality and discrimination," Borstelmann asserts. The United States had to confront racial segregation and discrimination within its own borders as well as regimes around the world to develop a multiracial global coalition against Soviet Communism. The US had to inspire the newly de-colonized non-white nations to sway towards the "free world." But how was the US to inspire a world, the majority non-white when Jim Crow was still firmly implanted in American society? Borstelmann follows the developments of these issues through the Presidencies that were tempered by the Cold War. I found the book a pleasant surprise. The book went beyond what I expected - being the race situations during the Cold War. Borstelmann took his work beyond that to a living political environment - domestic and international as one - where de-colonization, the Cold war environment, and the Civil Rights movement were taken out of their individual vacuums and thrown into a perspective that understands the complexities of that no so long ago reality. I am positive that anyone interested in race relations will embrace this book. Also I believe for a complete perspective of the Cold War or for any interested in the momentous events that transpired in the 20th century, this well researched book will make an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shawn M. Warswick on November 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thomas Borstelmann earned his B.A. from Stanford University in 1980, his M.A. from Duke in 1986 and his Ph.D. (also from Duke) in 1990. Having previously taught at Cornell, he is currently the Elwood N. and Katherine Thompson Professor of Modern World History and Chair of Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska. Having published five books, his most recent work is The 1970’s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality.

Borstelmann argues that the war in America for racial equality was inextricably linked to the movement abroad for racial equality. Furthermore, the author notes that the lack of racial equality at home undermined American arguments abroad about liberty and justice for all. Finally, the author argues that the cold war had a positive effect on the civil rights movement at home. Having said that, Borstelmann, while arguing that some presidents were better than others, does argue that these men, at the end of the day, simply wanted to contain blacks and whites who were attempting to bring racial equality to the United States. “The unfolding of national self-determination across Asia and Africa, in turn, nourished the struggle for equality in America.”

While the book focuses on the cold-war presidents from Harry Truman-George H.W. Bush, Chapter one starts off with a look at race relations prior to the end of World War II. Chapter two begins with Borstelmann noting that the U.S. had won World War II with an army made up of men from every continent on earth, preaching He also spends a good portion of the chapter looking at the relationship between Jim Crow and Apartheid in South Africa, noting that the election of 1948 meant the window of opportunity for both to work together was about to end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Zimmerman VINE VOICE on April 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Cold War and the Color Line" by Thomas Borstlemann was a textbook in one of my stepson's history classes at Southeastern Louisiana University. He thought I might enjoy it and I did. The focus is on the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson during the U.S. civil rights era. Borstlemann describes how America's practice of racial segregation (and support of European colonial powers, and the segregationist regime in South Africa) hampered it in the minds of third world countries as these mostly non-white countries chose between capitalist and democratic systems and the Communist model. An interesting observation of Bortlesmann's is that the presidents that did the most in support of civil rights for racial minorities were those who grew up in the South--Truman (Missouri) desegregated the military; Johnson (Texas) got the Voting Rights Act passed, and both Carter (Georgia) and Clinton (Arkansas) took a strong interest in the rights of both African-Americans and blacks in Africa. On the other hand, the presidents raised outside the South (Eisenhower in Kansas, Kennedy in Massachusetts, Nixon in California, Reagan in Illinois and Bush in Connecticut) viewed racial equality as a secondary issue at best, or in some cases even worked to reverse past gains. As a "50-something", I lived through most of this era (albeit in central New York state, not the deep South), and found Borstlemann's work to be very illuminating. Since I've lived in the south (South Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana) for the last 30 years, I appreciated the book from the "new South" perspective as well. Highly recommended to students of history and race relations.
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