Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Competing with the Soviets
Cover image of Competing with the Soviets
Share this Title:

Competing with the Soviets

Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America

Audra J. Wolfe

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy

A synthetic account of how science became a central weapon in the ideological Cold War.

Honorable Mention for the Forum for the History of Science in America Book Prize of the Forum for the History of Science in America

For most of the second half of the twentieth century, the United States and its allies competed with a hostile Soviet Union in almost every way imaginable except open military engagement. The Cold War placed two opposite conceptions of the good society before the uncommitted world and history itself, and science figured prominently in the picture. Competing with the Soviets offer…

A synthetic account of how science became a central weapon in the ideological Cold War.

Honorable Mention for the Forum for the History of Science in America Book Prize of the Forum for the History of Science in America

For most of the second half of the twentieth century, the United States and its allies competed with a hostile Soviet Union in almost every way imaginable except open military engagement. The Cold War placed two opposite conceptions of the good society before the uncommitted world and history itself, and science figured prominently in the picture. Competing with the Soviets offers a short, accessible introduction to the special role that science and technology played in maintaining state power during the Cold War, from the atomic bomb to the Human Genome Project.

The high-tech machinery of nuclear physics and the space race are at the center of this story, but Audra J. Wolfe also examines the surrogate battlefield of scientific achievement in such diverse fields as urban planning, biology, and economics; explains how defense-driven federal investments created vast laboratories and research programs; and shows how unfamiliar worries about national security and corrosive questions of loyalty crept into the supposedly objective scholarly enterprise.

Based on the assumption that scientists are participants in the culture in which they live, Competing with the Soviets looks beyond the debate about whether military influence distorted science in the Cold War. Scientists’ choices and opportunities have always been shaped by the ideological assumptions, political mandates, and social mores of their times. The idea that American science ever operated in a free zone outside of politics is, Wolfe argues, itself a legacy of the ideological Cold War that held up American science, and scientists, as beacons of freedom in contrast to their peers in the Soviet Union. Arranged chronologically and thematically, the book highlights how ideas about the appropriate relationships among science, scientists, and the state changed over time.

Jump to
Quick Add
Competing with the Soviets

Audra J. Wolfe

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy
Related

Related Books

Cover image of Finding Order in Nature
Finding Order in Nature

Paul Lawrence Farber

$30.00
Quick Add
Finding Order in Nature

Paul Lawrence Farber

Publication Date
Binding Type
Cover image of Transforming Matter
Transforming Matter

Trevor H. Levere

$29.00
Quick Add
Transforming Matter

Trevor H. Levere

Publication Date
Binding Type
Cover image of Pursuing Power and Light
Pursuing Power and Light

Bruce J. Hunt

$25.00
Quick Add
Pursuing Power and Light

Bruce J. Hunt

Publication Date
Binding Type
Cover image of Experimenting with Humans and Animals
Experimenting with Humans and Animals

Anita Guerrini

second edition
$28.95
Quick Add
Experimenting with Humans and Animals

Anita Guerrini

second edition
Publication Date
Binding Type
Cover image of Mixing Races
Mixing Races

Paul Lawrence Farber

$25.00
Quick Add
Mixing Races

Paul Lawrence Farber

Publication Date
Binding Type
Reviews

Reviews

Wolfe's book is the more traditional alternative to the case study: a synthetic overview. And it is a reminder of how valuable a clear, well-researched synthesis—one sophisticated, holistic take on all those little case studies—can be.

A book that is particularly easy to read, and hence one that I strongly recommend to anyone with a burgeoning interest in the study of Cold War science.

Competing with the Soviets is engaging, and its style of scholarship will intimidate no one. Despite being a synthesis of a huge range of events and sources, the book is slim and easily digested, and readers need no prerequisite science to evaluate the author’s ideas. Wolfe takes us from one constellation of promises to the next, showing how scientists tried—and quite often failed—to apply their world views to a multitude of society’s problems.

Wolfe has done a marvelous job of X-raying the field, grounding the larger narrative with important case studies... The task ahead lies in challenging and enriching—with new topics and novel periodization—the settled framework for interpreting American science in the Cold War. For novice and expert alike, Wolfe’s beautifully presented guide is an excellent place to start.

In Competing with the Soviets, Audra J. Wolfe provides an excellent overview of Cold War science. She accomplishes the difficult task of synthesizing a massive amount of both history and historiography into a highly readable arrative.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
176
ISBN
9781421407715
Illustration Description
15 halftones
Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter 1. The Atomic Age
Chapter 2. The Military-Industrial Complex
Chapter 3. Big Science
Chapter 4. Hearts and Minds and Markets
Chapter 5. Science and the General

List of Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter 1. The Atomic Age
Chapter 2. The Military-Industrial Complex
Chapter 3. Big Science
Chapter 4. Hearts and Minds and Markets
Chapter 5. Science and the General Welfare
Chapter 6. The Race to the Moon
Chapter 7. The End of Consensus
Chapter 8. Cold War Redux
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Suggested Further Reading
Index

Author Bio