How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America

How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America

by Jon Wiener

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Hours after the USSR collapsed in 1991, Congress began making plans to establish the official memory of the Cold War. Conservatives dominated the proceedings, spending millions to portray the conflict as a triumph of good over evil and a defeat of totalitarianism equal in significance to World War II.
In this provocative book, historian Jon Wiener visits Cold War monuments, museums, and memorials across the United States to find out how the era is being remembered. The author’s journey provides a history of the Cold War, one that turns many conventional notions on their heads.

In an engaging travelogue that takes readers to sites such as the life-size recreation of Berlin’s “Checkpoint Charlie” at the Reagan Library, the fallout shelter display at the Smithsonian, and exhibits about “Sgt. Elvis,” America’s most famous Cold War veteran, Wiener discovers that the Cold War isn’t being remembered. It’s being forgotten. Despite an immense effort, the conservatives’ monuments weren’t built, their historic sites have few visitors, and many of their museums have now shifted focus to other topics. Proponents of the notion of a heroic “Cold War victory” failed; the public didn’t buy the official story. Lively, readable, and well-informed, this book expands current discussions about memory and history, and raises intriguing questions about popular skepticism toward official ideology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520271418
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/15/2012
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jon Wiener is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. Among his books are Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files (UC Press) and Historians in Trouble: Plagiarism, Fraud and Politics in the Ivory Tower.

Read an Excerpt

Actress Eden (, best known for her starring role in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, reflects candidly on her career and personal life. She shares some mildly gossipy stories about encounters with fellow 20th Century Fox stars like Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, and Elvis Presley; divulges details about her sometimes volatile Jeannie costar, Larry Hagman; and discusses darker moments in her life, including several failed marriages and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son. Eden herself reads in an engaging, conversational tone that will appeal to fans of the star and the show. [The Crown Archetype hc, published in April, was a New York Times best seller.—Ed.]—Phillip Oliver, Univ. of North Alabama Lib., Florence

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Forgetting the Cold War

Part One. The End
1. Hippie Day at the Reagan Library
2. The Victims of Communism Museum: A Study in Failure

Part Two. The Beginning: 1946–1949
3. Getting Started: The Churchill Memorial in Missouri
4. Searching for the Pumpkin Patch: The Whittaker Chambers National Historic Landmark
5. Naming Names, from Laramie to Beverly Hills
6. Secrets on Display: The CIA Museum and the NSA Museum
7. Cold War Cleanup: The Hanford Tour

Part Three. The 1950s
8. Test Site Tourism in Nevada
9. Memorial Day in Lakewood and La Jolla: Korean War Monuments of California
10. Code Name “Ethel”: The Rosenbergs in the Museums
11. Mound Builders of Missouri: Nuclear Waste at Weldon Spring
12. Cold War Elvis: Sgt. Presley at the General George Patton Museum

Part Four. The 1960s and After
13. The Graceland of Cold War Tourism: The Greenbrier Bunker
14. Ike’s Emmy: Monuments to the Military-
Industrial Complex
15. The Fallout Shelters of North Dakota
16. “It Had to Do with Cuba and Missiles”: Thirteen Days in October
17. The Museum of the Missile Gap: Arizona’s Titan Missile Memorial
18. The Museum of Détente: The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda

Part Five. Alternative Approaches
19. Rocky Flats: Uncovering the Secrets
20. CNN’s Cold War: Equal Time for the Russians
21. Harry Truman’s Amazing Museum

Conclusion: History, Memory, and the Cold War
Epilogue: From the Cold War to the War in Iraq



What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"As popular reading, it's got the humor and wit of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation and James Loewen's Sundown Towns and DJ Waldie's Holy Land. By which I mean it's witty and kinda mean, and exhilarating bad fun."—Oc Weekly: Orange County News, Arts & Ent

"Wiener's wit and deft grasp of geopolitics make for one of the season's most intriguing historical books."—Philadelphia City Paper

"Who knew the Cold War was funny? Wiener's adventures in American historical memory are surprisingly lively."—Zocalo Public Square

"A provocative and fascinating new book."—Los Angeles Review of Books

"A political argument masquerading as a travel yarn. . . . Wiener's accounts of his trips to nuclear test sites, missile-launching control centers and fallout shelter exhibits contrast the guides' cheerful patter with the prospect of Armageddon."—New York Times Book Review

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How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A revisionist history examining the Cold War from the jaded view of current times rather than the vview of the time. He even tries to get one to believe that Rosenbergs were not guilty! I wasted my money purchasing this excretory work and wasted my time reading it. This book does not deservse to be classified as history.