Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and "Nation Building" in the Kennedy Era / Edition 1

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Overview

Providing new insight on the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the Cold War, Michael Latham reveals how social science theory helped shape American foreign policy during the Kennedy administration. He shows how, in the midst of America's protracted struggle to contain communism in the developing world, the concept of global modernization moved beyond its beginnings in academia to become a motivating ideology behind policy decisions.

After tracing the rise of modernization theory in American social science, Latham analyzes the way its core assumptions influenced the Kennedy administration's Alliance for Progress with Latin America, the creation of the Peace Corps, and the strategic hamlet program in Vietnam. But as he demonstrates, modernizers went beyond insisting on the relevance of America's experience to the dilemmas faced by impoverished countries. Seeking to accelerate the movement of foreign societies toward a liberal, democratic, and capitalist modernity, Kennedy and his advisers also reiterated a much deeper sense of their own nation's vital strengths and essential benevolence. At the height of the Cold War, Latham argues, modernization recast older ideologies of Manifest Destiny and imperialism.

About the Author:
Michael E. Latham is assistant professor of history at Fordham University.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A particularly interesting study.

Journal of American History

Latham provides a detailed, clear, and largely well-supported study of several important U.S. Cold War foreign policies.

American Historical Review

This book should be widely read by students and scholars of history, political science, sociology, and policy analysis.

Choice

Latham's is an important book that should find a wide audience among those interested in the history of the Cold War.

International Affairs

Elegant, precise, and copiously informative.

Anders Stephanson, Columbia University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807825334
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2000
  • Series: The New Cold War History
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael E. Latham is associate professor of history at Fordham University.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by John Lewis Gaddis
Acknowledgments
1. Modernization as Ideology: Approaching the Problem
2. American Social Science, Modernization Theory, and the Cold War
3. Modernity, Anticommunism, and the Alliance for Progress
4. Modernization for Peace: The Peace Corps, Community Development, and America's Mission
5. Modernization at War: Counterinsurgency and the Strategic Hamlet Program in Vietnam
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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