RIDING HIGH: America in the Cold War by Carl Solberg

RIDING HIGH: America in the Cold War

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A former Time editor now at Columbia University, Solberg dissects the effects of the Cold War on the American domestic political sensibility, concentrating on ""the unintended consequences."" Solberg's analysis -- written in the easy, popcorn prose of a competent social historian (Frederick Lewis Allen comes to mind) -- touches all the bases between 1945 and 1963, the latter date chosen as the end of frozen diplomacy by virtue of the Test Ban Treaty. The buoyant Truman years, the deceptively slow Eisenhower terms, and the foreshortened Kennedy reign rattle by like an old locomotive blurring around a mountain pass, with political, social, and cultural referrals thrown out like so much smoke -- James Dean of Rebel without a Cause fame, the Marshall Plan, loyalty lists, the Teamster era of Dave Beck, the Korean War, the canker we learned to call McCarthyism, the death of Stalin, bikinis, the ""mobilized peace"" of the late '40's and '50's, the demise of Jim Crow, Sputnik, the credibility gap (as we innocently called it then), the U-2 disaster, Ike's memorable phrase ""Military-Industrial Complex,"" the coming and going in a twinkling of Camelot. . . all seem so far, far away, so long ago, so archival. But this backdrop data provides the context for Solberg's main conclusion -- namely that while we were convulsed by the foreign threat of monolithic Communism which was menacing our liberties (or so we were told again and again by people like Dulles and Nixon), those very liberties were being eroded at home by the effort. Because the book is about the homefront, Solberg is not compelled (thank goodness) to get into the revisionist hassle over the origins of the Cold War. Rather he tells us about what that era did to our dream -- effects we still suffer. Intelligent, warm, unspectacular assessment.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1973
Publisher: Mason & Lipscomb