How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey Across America
ISBN: 0520282213
EAN13: 9780520282216
Language: English
Pages: 384
Dimensions: 1.00" H x 9.00" L x 6.00" W
Weight: 1.00 lbs.
Format: Paperback
Book Overview
Hours after the USSR collapsed in 1991, Congress began making plans to establish the official memory of the Cold War. Conservatives dominated the proceedings, spending millions to portray the conflict as a triumph of good over evil and a defeat of totalitarianism equal in significance to World War II. In this provocative book, historian Jon Wiener visits Cold War monuments, museums, and memorials across the United States to find out how the era is being remembered. The author's journey provides a history of the Cold War, one that turns many conventional notions on their heads. In an engaging travelogue that takes readers to sites such as the life-size recreation of Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie at the Reagan Library, the fallout shelter display at the Smithsonian, and exhibits about Sgt. Elvis, America's most famous Cold War veteran, Wiener discovers that the Cold War isn't being remembered. It's being forgotten. Despite an immense effort, the conservatives' monuments weren't built, their historic sites have few visitors, and many of their museums have now shifted focus to other topics. Proponents of the notion of a heroic Cold War victory failed; the public didn't buy the official story. Lively, readable, and well-informed, this book expands current discussions about memory and history, and raises intriguing questions about popular skepticism toward official ideology.
Editor Reviews
From the Back Cover Here's a book that would've split the sides of Thucydides. Wiener's magical mystery tour of Cold War museums is simultaneously hilarious and the best thing ever written on public history and its contestation. --Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz Jon Wiener, an astute observer of how history is perceived by the general public, shows us how official efforts to shape popular memory of the Cold War have failed. His journey across America to visit exhibits, monuments, and other historical sites, demonstrates how quickly the Cold War has faded from popular consciousness. A fascinating and entertaining book. --Eric Foner, author of Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 In How We Forgot the Cold War , Jon Wiener shows how conservatives tried--and failed--to commemorate the Cold War as a noble victory over the global forces of tyranny, a 'good war' akin to World War II. Displaying splendid skills as a reporter in addition to his discerning eye as a scholar, this historian's travelogue convincingly shows how the right sought to extend its preferred policy of 'rollback' to the arena of public memory. In a country where historical memory has become an obsession, Wiener's ability to document the ambiguities and absences in these commemorations is an unusual accomplishment. --Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America In this terrific piece of scholarly journalism, Jon Wiener imaginatively combines scholarship on the Cold War, contemporary journalism, and his own observations of various sites commemorating the era to describe both what they contain and, just as importantly, what they do not. By interrogating the standard conservative brand of American triumphalism, Wiener offers an interpretation of the Cold War that emphasizes just how unnecessary the conflict was and how deleterious its aftereffects have really been.--Ellen Schrecker, author of Many Are The Crimes: McCarthyism in America
From the front Cover Here's a book that would've split the sides of Thucydides. Wiener's magical mystery tour of Cold War museums is simultaneously hilarious and the best thing ever written on public history and its contestation. --Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz Jon Wiener, an astute observer of how history is perceived by the general public, shows us how official efforts to shape popular memory of the Cold War have failed. His journey across America to visit exhibits, monuments, and other historical sites, demonstrates how quickly the Cold War has faded from popular consciousness. A fascinating and entertaining book. --Eric Foner, author of Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 In How We Forgot the Cold War , Jon Wiener shows how conservatives tried--and failed--to commemorate the Cold War as a noble victory over the global forces of tyranny, a 'good war' akin to World War II. Displaying splendid skills as a reporter in addition to his discerning eye as a scholar, this historian's travelogue convincingly shows how the right sought to extend its preferred policy of 'rollback' to the arena of public memory. In a country where historical memory has become an obsession, Wiener's ability to document the ambiguities and absences in these commemorations is an unusual accomplishment. --Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America In this terrific piece of scholarly journalism, Jon Wiener imaginatively combines scholarship on the Cold War, contemporary journalism, and his own observations of various sites commemorating the era to describe both what they contain and, just as importantly, what they do not. By interrogating the standard conservative brand of American triumphalism, Wiener offers an interpretation of the Cold War that emphasizes just how unnecessary the conflict was and how deleterious its aftereffects have really been.--Ellen Schrecker, author of Many Are The Crimes: McCarthyism in America