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Losing Our Souls: The American Experience in the Cold War / Edition 1

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Overview

"The cold war," Edward Pessen writes, "was the most unusual war the United States ever fought." It was by far the longest of all American wars, he explains, but it was not a shooting war, and it had neither a precise beginning or ending. It produced United States policies which were bold, dynamic, and unprecedented. The swiftest glance at recent events seems to establish that the United States achieved its chief objectives: amidst the debris of communism and the Soviet empire, the United States stands alone as the sole remaining superpower. Yet, Mr. Pessen asks, victory at what cost? While political observers ponder the Soviet collapse, and historians continue to debate the origins of the cold war, scarcely anyone has considered the profound changes it wrought in American society. Losing Our Souls is the first book to sum up the consequences of the cold war for Americans - the shifting ideals of our approach to international affairs; the building of our nuclear arsenal; the tactics used to combat "communist subversion" throughout the world and within the United States; the transformation of the American economy in response to security demands. Carefully reviewing the evidence, and writing with the authority of a distinguished historian, Mr. Pessen charges that American cold war policy has been disastrous for many of our cherished values and institutions. In a powerful indictment of American leadership, he accuses our cold war policymakers of engaging in deplorable activities and of misrepresenting them to the American people - all in the name of anticommunism. Losing Our Souls is an important book that challenges official appraisals and offers a different perspective on our cold war experience.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pessen seeks to show that the arrogance of U.S. anti-Soviet policy during the Cold War, combined with the ``essential recklessness and mendacity'' of the domestic anticommunist crusade, corupted the moral fiber of our nation. He maintains that Soviet conduct, reprehensible though it may have been at times, never justified such behavior on our government's part as the numerous plots to assassinate foreign heads of state. The study offers an unusually lucid account of how the ``containment'' policy was hammered out in 1950 and codified in National Security Council Memorandum No. 68, which became the secret blueprint for anti-Soviet policy and ushered in the arms race and its attendant terrors. Pessen expertly traces the development of a Cold War political atmosphere in the U.S. that was ``congenial to the rise of men whose chief claim to prominence was their ability to exploit the nation's fear of communism,'' including leaders such as J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy and Richard M. Nixon. The author's points are familiar, yet the cumulative effect of his argument is powerful and thought-provoking. The late Pessen ( Jacksonian America ) was a professor of history at the City University of New York. (Nov.)
Melvyn P. Leffler
A bold and provocative critique of U.S. policies. Some readers will be angered, others provoked, still others gratified.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566630962
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 8/1/1995
  • Edition description: 1st Elephant paperback ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 257
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Pessen was for many years Distinguished Professor of History at Baruch College and the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. His best-known books are Most Uncommon Jacksonians and The Log Cabin Myth.
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Table of Contents

Preface 11
I American Cold War Policy 19
II The Foreign Policy Principles of a Democratic Republic 28
III American Justifications for Waging the Cold War 45
IV Treating the Soviet Union as the Enemy 84
V Nuclear Bombs for Freedom 96
VI The Crusade Against 'Communist Subversion' at Home 128
VII Covert Operations Against International 'Communist Subversion' 165
VIII The Consequences of America's Cold War Policy 200
Epilogue: The Legacy of the Cold War 221
Notes 225
Index 246
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