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The Cold War & the University: Toward an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years Paperback – February 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Those already inclined to regard the government as deceitful, oppressive and imperialist will be further convinced by this book. To most people, however, it will appear unfortunately slanted and dated. The overt purpose of the collection is to assemble writings by American scholars on how the Cold War affected the academy, but as often as not the real agenda would seem the condemnation of almost all government action of the period. Montgomery strikes this note in his introduction, which he begins with censorship of broadcasts by Los Alamos scientists being censored in May 1946. There are plenty of interesting essays to be written about the purported topic without dragging tangential subjects in kicking and screaming: corporate power versus the UAW and CIO, racial violence in the military and genocide against the Indians-"the original sin of American culture," says Noam Chomsky. In more germane (if equally skewed) essays, R.C. Lewontin describes how research agendas of universities were shaped by communist witch hunts while Richard Ohmann writes of secret inducements in English departments to follow a Cold War blueprint. In short, the scholarship is embarrassingly selective, and designed not to inform but to indict.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

New Press editor Andre Schiffrin, who has suggested topics for many of Studs Terkel's lively oral histories, expected more traditional history and less "oral" recollection when he imagined collecting studies of the cold war's impact on U.S. intellectual life, particularly at U.S. universities, but once past the McCarthy era, he found little useful work done. After sponsoring university discussions, the publisher plans a series of essay collections on aspects of this important subject. The series' first entry is a mix of documentary investigations and personal memoirs. Most authors examine the cold war's effects within specific disciplines: Howard Zinn on history; Richard Ohmann on English literature; Laura Nader on anthropology; Ray Siever on earth science; Immanuel Wallerstein on area studies; and Ira Katznelson on political science. Noam Chomsky and R. C. Lewontin provide more general comments on academia's response to cold war growth, funding, and challenges to traditional principles. Not an essential acquisition, but likely to circulate to readers drawn by the subject or the volume's contributors. Mary Carroll --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565843975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565843974
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on June 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Just a note on the review by the reader from New York posted on May 5, 1999: Laura Nader's mention of Eric Wolf's stealing documents was in fact a misprint inserted by an editor. It's a long story, but I'm fairly certain of its validity. I've taken classes with her at UC Berkeley and in a discussion of the book she went out of her way to point out the error. Understandibly, she was quite upset.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pen Name? VINE VOICE on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Viewing a political era from a particular point of view, from a subjective perspective can often manage to shed light on much more. The experiences reported by the individuals in this book are extremely well written stories that transcend the bounds of what at first seems a narrow topic. Still, if you have a particular interest in education and the politics of universities and colleges, you will find this book even more intriguing.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A fine collection of essays, particularly those of Howard Zinn, R.C. Lewontin, and Noam Chomsky. The introduction by David Montgomery is also quite good, mixing, as many of the essays do, personal recollections of working in the university system, with historical research.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
If not itself, the history of the Cold War is alive and haunting us. Editor complains that when they first decided to print this project on Cold War scholarship, there were little amount, if not none, of books and statistics to be collected. So they eventually went on to call people who had long been exchanging their postwar experiences in private. The book is not a bedside novel; however, it does not have the flavor of an unpleasant history report either. It is the advantage of the students of international politics and political science to have this volume in their dispossal when composing a paper. But they, plus the reader with a broad interest better use it wisely if they ever read it. There were two kinds of American scholars in the Cold War; the ones that were critical of the American foreign policy and the ones that were not. Neoconservatives, if they may, in their testimony of the Cold War would feel sorry about what had the Washington done in Vietnam; the New Left's impression of those years would be the curriculum and the enrollment policies of the universities having got hideously political. Lewontin draws a parellel between the Cold War and what might be the multiplication of scholarship. It is not a secret that big sums of public money were deposited in the bank accounts of the universities and that meant on one hand a sense of scientific secularism exiting the house of higher education and on the other hand a prosperity gladly welcomed. In the post war years, a crisis awaited the economy. Whether it is in the economy or the science, the costs of production and the projects were to be socialized. In the Cold War setting, this was easy enough.Read more ›
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
While an important contribution to the literature on the history of the Cold War, a shocking number of production errors marrs the text. The most agregious error is in Laura Nadar's essay in which she inadvertantly accuses Eric Wolf of stealing documents when he was in fact the recipient of such documents. Even the most sympathetic reader will eventually question the conclusions reached by the contributors
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