Columbia History of Post-World War II America
Every epoch bewilders those who live through it, but for Americans, the postwar era has been a time of breathtaking change and transition. With these comprehensive and engaging essays, this volume encourages readers to form a new perspective on a recent and highly debated period of American history.
Contributors to this volume were chosen for their ability to conceive of topics in unconventional and provocative ways. Renowned scholars specializing in economics, foreign affairs, political science, and social and cultural history collectively reexamine the history of America since the end of World War II. Rather than divide this period into such traditional categories as "women," "television," and "politics," contributors take a cross-topical approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of American life and society.
Beginning with an analysis of cultural themes and ending with a discussion of evolving and expanding political and corporate institutions, these essays address changes in America's response to the outside world; the merging of psychological states and social patterns in memorial culture, scandal culture, and consumer culture; the intersection of social practices and governmental policies; the effect of technological change on society and politics; and the intersection of changing belief systems and technological development, among other issues.
Many had feared that Orwellian institutions would crush the individual in the postwar era, but a major theme of this book is the persistence of individuality and diversity. Trends toward institutional bigness and standardization have coexisted with and sometimes have given rise to a countervailing pattern of individualized expression and consumption. Today Americans are exposed to more kinds of images and music, choose from an infinite variety of products, and have a range of options in terms of social and sexual arrangements. In short, they enjoy more ways to express their individuality despite the rise of immense global corporations, and this history imaginatively explores every facet of this unique American experience.