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The Culture of the Cold War

, 288 pages
April 1996



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The Culture of the Cold War
second edition

"Without the Cold War, what's the point of being an American?" As if in answer to this poignant question from John Updike's Rabbit at Rest, Stephen Whitfield examines the impact of the Cold War—and its dramatic ending—on American culture in an updated version of his highly acclaimed study. In a new epilogue to this second edition, he extends his analysis from the McCarthyism of the 1950s, including its effects on the American and European intelligensia, to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond.

Whitfield treats his subject matter with the eye of a historian, reminding the reader that the Cold War is now a thing of the past. His treatment underscores the importance of the Cold War to our national identity and forces the reader to ask, Where do we go from here? The question is especially crucial for the Cold War historian, Whitfield argues. His new epilogue is partly a guide for new historians to tackle the complexities of Cold War studies.

Stephen J. Whitfield is Max Richter Chair in American Civilization at Brandeis University. He is the author of A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till and A Critical American: The Politics of Dwight Macdonald

"A lively and well-documented account of how the Cold War both produced and was sustained by super-patriotism, intolerance and suspicion, and how these pathologies infected all aspects of American life in the 1950s—entertainment, churches, schools. Older readers will remember and still be amazed; younger ones will find this a readable introduction to a bizarre aspect of the American past."