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The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!: Pageantry and Patriotism in Cold-War America: Richard M. Fried
Oxford University Press, USA | ISBN: 0195134176 | 1998-09-03 | PDF (OCR) | 240 pages | 10.94 Mb
At a time when Americans dedicate their national holidays to barbecues, sporting events, and driving madly on crowded interstate highways to vacation homes and theme parks, it may be difficult to remember an era when patriotic observance was a matter of high seriousness and legislated pageantry. But now the memory is restored in fascinating detail by Richard M. Fried in the eye-opening The Russians Are Coming!
After summarizing such patriotic developments as the sanctification of the American flag and the wide--and occasionally coercive--acceptance of the Pledge of Allegiance, Fried describes how the Ad Council, the American Heritage Foundation, and other organizations created "campaigns to sell America to the Americans" through carefully constructed "rededication" celebrations like "Know Your America" Weeks, Freedom Weeks, and traveling exhibitions such as the Freedom Train, which in the late 1940s brought original copies of seminal American documents directly to cities and towns across the country. He vividly recreates the spectacle of clashing New York City parades involving thousands of participants, as celebrants of the newly-created Loyalty Day marched in opposition to pro-Communist May Day demonstrations just blocks away. Most startling, though, is Fried's account of how Mosinee, Wisconsin was "invaded" by Communists in a staged media event sponsored by the American Legion. Citizens allowed themselves to be searched at random while local officials acted the part of Stalinists, and the town restaurants were required to serve only potato soup and black bread.
Meticulously researched and colorfully told, The Russians Are Coming! recreates an absorbing--and revealing--dimension of American history.
Summary: Don't read this if you are a cold war novice.
Although this book has educational merit, and certainly a place in the study of the cold war, it is not a good book for people with little or no knowledge of the cold war. The book, although dry, is well written and well researched. Drawing upon primary sources it does a satisfactory job of presenting the stated thesis. However, the author really reaches at points (especially in the final chapters) to connect the subject he is discussing to the cold war. Some of the subjects discussed, for example the Civil War Centennial Celebration, took place during the cold war, but were not nessesarily connected to the cold war. If you are looking to build a foundational knowledge about cold war facts and history I suggest you look elsewhere.
Summary: Where Are the Photographs?
A skimpy book (only 159 pages of text), with rather repetitive material, this cries out for photographs of the pageantry it describes. But there's only one photo (on the cover). Where are the colorful parades, the patriotic pageants, the anti-Communist publications of that era?
Summary: Don't read this book
This book is the worst book i have ever read. I fell asleep before even reading the introduction. I highly recommend you avoid this book at all costs.
Summary: Outstanding summary of the lighter side of the cold war era
Of Fried's three books on the cold war era, this focused on pagentry rather than just McCarthyism (although the two are inextricably tied). "The Russians..." provided humorous and interesting anecdotes about the impact of the cold war on everyday americans in ways I could not have imagined. I highly recommend reading it.