"A significant contribution to our understanding of America during a pivotal decade in American history. Dunar masterfully illuminates the key political, diplomatic, military, and social developments of the decade and persuasively explains their intricate connections and lasting consequences."—William A. Taylor, assistant professor of security studies, Angelo State University, Texas
The 1950s evoke images of prosperity, suburbia, a smiling President Eisenhower, cars with elaborate tail fins, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and the “golden age” of television—seemingly a simpler time in which the idealized family life of situation comedies had at least some basis in reality. A closer examination, however,recalls more threatening images: the hysteria of McCarthy-ism, the shadow of the atomic bomb, war in Korea, the Soviet threat manifested in the launch of Sputnik and the bombast of Nikita Khruschchev, and clashes over the integration of public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Andrew J. Dunar successfully shows how the issues confronting America in the late twentieth century have roots in the fifties, some apparent at the time, others only in retrospect: civil rights, environmentalism, the counterculture, and “movements” on behalf of women, Chicanos, and Native Americans.
The rise of the “Beats,” the continuing development of jazz, the emergence of rock ’n’ roll, and the art of Jackson Pollock reveal the decade to be less conformist than commonly portrayed. While the cold war rivalry with the Soviet Union generated the most concern, Dunar skillfully illustrates how the rise of Nasser in Egypt, Castro in Cuba, and Communist regimes in North Korea, Vietnam, and China signaled new regional challenges to American power.
Andrew J. Dunar is professor emeritus of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His books include The Truman Scandals and the Politics of Morality and America in the Fifties.
6 x 9, 336 pages, 13 black and white illustrations, 2 maps