Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower

Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower

Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower

Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower

Synopsis

Like its predecessor, the second edition of Politics as Usual, treats the decade and a half after World War II as a discrete historical era, the end of which represents a watershed in the political life of the nation. Despite the pressures created by the Cold War and the challenges posed by developing nations, American politics from 1945 to 1960 reflects a relatively stable equilibrium. Although from different political parties, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower shared a basic caution in fiscal affairs and an acceptance of the global responsibilities thrust on the United States after the war. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans continued to contest elections along the familiar fault lines formed during the New Deal, and the American electorate divided its loyalties relatively evenly between the two major parties.

Since 1988, when the first edition of Politics as Usual appeared, much has happened to affect our perspective on American political life during the Truman-Eisenhower years. Of greatest importance, the end of the Cold War and the subsequent opening of significant new sources from "the other side" allow us to see through a different prism the decisions and stances taken by American presidents and policymakers. In addition to considering the impact of the new-and newly informed-historical literature, Reichard gives more attention to the challenges posed by the formation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism in the 1940s and 1950s, the Korean War, the early stages of United States involvement in Vietnam, and CIA operations. This second edition also features a new photographic essay.

Excerpt

From time to time, all historians are asked—sometimes innocently, sometimes cynically, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek—since facts are facts, why keep writing about the same period in history? The answer, of course, is that the availability of new information and changes in contemporary context produce new knowledge and different interpretations. For this reason, revising a book written years earlier is a very interesting exercise.

Much has happened since 1988 to affect our perspective on American political life in the years 1945 to 1960. Of greatest importance, the Cold War has ended, thereby posing a possibility for seeing through a different prism the decisions and stances taken by American presidents and policymakers in the years after 1945. The world has become much more of a global entity, less concerned with balances of power than in connectivities. At the same time, the eyes of the world have turned increasingly to events in the Middle East, which has become the seeming crucible of conflict. These changes in “context” have led me to give more attention in this edition to the issues of Palestine and Israel in the late 1940s and to the challenges posed by Arab nationalism in the 1950s than in the original version, as well as to try to distinguish more sharply between “short-term” (i.e., Cold War) factors operating in that region and the longer-term issues at stake there.

And with the ending of the Cold War, significant new sources from “the other side” have become available for use by historians.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.