A strong contribution to the history of modern science.




Of psy-ops, seismic detection, and other emanations of the Cold War as it was conducted in petri dishes and cyclotrons.

In this engaging and dense study of the politics of science in the Cold War era, historian Wolfe (Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America, 2012) examines a puzzling paradox: In an era of McCarthy-ite redbaiting and witch-hunting, how could scientists with leftist affiliations keep on working on classified projects related to that struggle against the Communist bloc? The answer is that the era may not have been as thoroughly politicized as we think—or, in the case of at least one prominent researcher, “the US government embraced advocates of scientific freedom as spokespersons for American values.” Just so, science was not necessarily oppositional: A scientist could support civil rights and other prematurely anti-fascist causes without by definition becoming an enemy of the state, and indeed many scientists took care to make clear distinctions between their personal views and their public objectivity. Well-funded by dozens of organizations that were in varying degrees dependent on the government—even as the government took care to pretend that they were all independent—these scientists fought the scientific Cold War on many fronts, engaging against Lysenko-ist notions of genetics here and doing thermonuclear research there. Even so, they engaged Soviet-bloc scientists in regular conferences, some specifically with an eye on promoting international cooperation and peace; they also participated in operations such as Pugwash, which “offered a reliable backchannel for diplomats and intelligence officers in both the United States and the Soviet Union" even as it purported to be made up of unaffiliated scientists. In the end, Wolfe suggests, scientific neutrality, when it comes to politics, may be a chimera, but even that doesn’t matter much in an era when, in the U.S. government, “the structures of power no longer value independent thought, a common public good, or global opinion”—or indeed, science itself.

A strong contribution to the history of modern science.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4214-2673-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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