In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq

In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq

by Adam J. Berinsky
     
 

From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam

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Overview

From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adam Berinsky argues that public response to these crises has been shaped less by their defining characteristics—such as what they cost in lives and resources—than by the same political interests and group affiliations that influence our ideas about domestic issues.

With the help of World War II–era survey data that had gone virtually untouched for the past sixty years, Berinsky begins by disproving the myth of “the good war” that Americans all fell in line to support after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack, he reveals, did not significantly alter public opinion but merely punctuated interventionist sentiment that had already risen in response to the ways that political leaders at home had framed the fighting abroad. Weaving his findings into the first general theory of the factors that shape American wartime opinion, Berinsky also sheds new light on our reactions to other crises. He shows, for example, that our attitudes toward restricted civil liberties during Vietnam and after 9/11 stemmed from the same kinds of judgments we make during times of peace.

With Iraq and Afghanistan now competing for attention with urgent issues within the United States, In Time of War offers a timely reminder of the full extent to which foreign and domestic politics profoundly influence—and ultimately illuminate—each other.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226043586
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Series:
Chicago Studies in American Politics Series
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures  

List of Tables   

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1. Introduction: America at War

Part I. Historical Perspective

Chapter 2. Public Opinion and War: A Historical Perspective

Chapter 3. The Myths and Meaning of Public Opinion and World War II

Part II. The Structure of Support for War

Chapter 4. The Calculation of Costs: An Innocent Public

Chapter 5. Partisan Structure of War Support: Events, Elites, and the Public

Chapter 6. Ethnic Groups: Attachments, Enmities, and Support for War

Part III. Public Opinion and War: Back to the Water’s Edge

Chapter 7. Civil Liberties and War

Chapter 8. Elections during Wartime

Chapter 9. Conclusions

Appendix A: Description of Data and Weighting

Appendix B: Iraq War Casualty Survey Analysis

Appendix C: Congressional Record Content Analysis

Appendix D: Statistical Significance of Ethnic Variables

Appendix E: Relationship between Support for War and Support for Restricting Civil Liberties  

Appendix F: NES Analysis of Retrospective War Support

Notes

References

Index

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