Uncertain Empire: American History and the Idea of the Cold War

Paperback | September 10, 2012

EditorJoel Isaac, Duncan Bell

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Historians have long understood that the notion of "the cold war" is richly metaphorical, if not paradoxical. The conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was a war that fell ambiguously short of war, an armed truce that produced considerable bloodshed. Yet scholars in therapidly expanding field of Cold War studies have seldom paused to consider the conceptual and chronological foundations of the idea of the Cold War itself. This stands in contrast to the study of other historical epochs that are governed by grand but ambivalent rubrics: the Renaissance, theScientific Revolution, or the Industrial Revolution. In Uncertain Empire, a group of leading scholars takes up the challenge of making sense of the idea of the Cold War and its application to the writing of American history. They interrogate the concept from a wide range of disciplinary vantagepoints; the scope of these different positions illustrates the diversity of methods and approaches in contemporary Cold War studies. Among the disciplines on which the book draws are diplomatic history, the history of science, literary criticism, cultural history, and the history of religion.Animating the volume as a whole is a question about the extent to which the Cold War was an American invention. Essays look at the Cold War as in need of a rigorous re-centering, after a decade in which historians have introduced expansive global and transnational perspectives on the conflict; as auniquely American ideological project designed to legitimize the pursuit of an ambitious geopolitical agenda; as a geopolitical and transnational phenomenon; and other approaches. Uncertain Empire brings these debates into focus, and offers students of the Cold War a new framework for consideringrecent developments in the scholarship.

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Historians have long understood that the notion of "the cold war" is richly metaphorical, if not paradoxical. The conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was a war that fell ambiguously short of war, an armed truce that produced considerable bloodshed. Yet scholars in therapidly expanding field of Cold War studies have ...

Joel Issac is Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. Duncan Bell is Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.

other books by Joel Isaac

Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:September 10, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199826145

ISBN - 13:9780199826148

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Table of Contents

Joel Isaac and Duncan Bell: IntroductionPart I: Prisms1. Anders Stephanson: Cold War Degree Zero2. Odd Arne Westad: Exploring the Histories of the Cold War: A Pluralist Approach3. Philip Mirowski: A History Best Served Cold4. Steven Belletto: Inventing Other Realities: What the Cold War Means for Literary StudiesPart II: Vistas5. John Thompson: The Geopolitical Vision: The Myth of an Outmatched U.S.A.6. Ann Douglas: War Envy and Amnesia: American Cold War Rewrites of Russia's War7. Andrew Preston: The Spirit of Democracy: Religious Liberty and American Anti-Communism during the Cold War8. Paul S. Boyer: God, the Bomb, and the Cold War: The Religious and Ethical Debate Over Nuclear Weapons, 1945-19609. Daniel Matlin: Blues Under Siege: Ralph Ellison, Albert Murray, and the Idea of America10. Moshik Temkin: Cold War Culture and the Lingering Myth of Sacco and Vanzetti11. Peter Mandler: Deconstructing "Cold War Anthropology"12. Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi: Cognitive and Perceptual Training in the Cold War Man-Machine SystemIndex