Sunday, April 20, 2014

Theme: Cold War

  • Last November I sat in a hotel ballroom surrounded by fellow historians of science as a baffling (to me, anyway) exchange unfolded over the legitimacy of the term “Cold War Social Science.” The occasion was a roundtable discussion at the History of Science Society’s annual meeting on a new book, bearing that very title, edited by Mark Solovey and Hamilton Cravens. Having just written my own book about science and the Cold War, I watched with growing alarm as colleagues spelled out their objections: decolonialization, various rights’ movements, the triumph of neoliberalism, pre-existing strains of social scientific thinking—surely each of these influenced the postwar social sciences as much as the conflict between Communism and capitalism?Read more
  • How did Paul Dehn become the preeminent screenwriter of the Cold War? Like most information about screenwriters, the answer might as well be top secret. There exists no biographical dictionary of screenwriters. The number of good biographies of screenwriters can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.Read more
  • “Switzerland Exposed,” screamed the title of a book I happened to see recently, drawing a wry smile, and a feeling of “you can’t be serious!” That’s the usual response when people hear about my new research on American philanthropic foundations, which argues that they are not so “cuddly” a bunch as their image suggests. Read more
  • Does it make any sense today to imagine like Hegel that the future of Latin America will necessarily involve a conflict with the United States, “in the ages that lie before us?” I think the answer is yes, but that this may not be a necessarily bad thing for the United States. Read more
  • With every year, the US naval base at Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay becomes less of a place and more of a concept, one that seems to have sprung from a vacuum on January 11, 2002, when twenty of the earliest detainees in the “war on terror” arrived there in orange jumpsuits, blackened goggles, shackles and earmuffs.Read more
  • Kennan thought that Americans were shallow, materialistic, and self-centered—he had the attitude of a typical mid-century European—and the more he saw of them the less fond of them he grew. Read more
  • Every revolution is a surprise. Still, the latest Russian Revolution must be counted among the greatest of surprises. In the years leading up to 1991, virtually no Western expert, scholar, official, or politician foresaw the impending collapse of the Soviet Union.Read more
  • Gore Vidal on the Cold War, Harry S. Truman and the use of the Atomic Bomb.Read more
  • Organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for a New American Security, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Center for American Progress - to name but a few - are not politically neutral institutions.Read more
  • But then, twenty years ago, it “fell,” as if it were an old man or an autumn leaf. The two cities melded together again and the chunks of the Wall still standing, like smudges the eraser missed, are there for tourists to photograph and locals to hurry past. I cross its former path many times a week, often several times a day, without thinking about it. My neighborhood was one of those odd protrusions that gave the Wall its lumpy, upside-down-Christmas Tree shape. It used to encase this section of Kreuzberg, in what was once West Berlin, on three sides — West and East being ideological terms in Cold War Berlin more than geographical ones: if you were to head southeast, northeast, north, or northwest from my apartment, you would be on your way to “the East,” or at least to the barrier that marked where the East once began.Read more
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