U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School

Dear Readers: My book is published. I think that’s big enough news to share. For a roundtable on this book, click here.

Here’s some information from the publisher:

Education and the Cold War
The Battle for the American School
Andrew Hartman

Shortly after the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957, Hannah Arendt quipped that “only in America could a crisis in education actually become a factor in politics.” The Cold War battle for the American school – dramatized but not initiated by Sputnik – proved Arendt correct. The schools served as a battleground in the ideological conflicts of the 1950s. Beginning with the genealogy of progressive education, and ending with the formation of New Left and New Right thought, Education and the Cold War offers a fresh perspective on the postwar transformation in U.S. political culture by way of an examination of the educational history of that era.

“In contemporary American culture, ‘the conservative 1950s’ have become something of a cliché. Hartman’s smart book gives new historical substance to the term, showing us how–and why–our schools turned Right during the Cold War. Even better, he makes us question whether the schools ever really turned back.”–Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University

“Hartman is a wise and sensible guide through the thickets of historical flow, economic structure, political condition and cultural context. An encounter with Education and the Cold War is fortification for the important struggles ahead.”–William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago; Author of Teaching Toward Freedom

Introduction: An American Crisis * John Dewey and the Invention of Childhood: Progressive Education in the Beginning * Education as Great Depression Experience: The Unraveling of the Popular Front and the Roots of Educational Vigilantism * From Hot War to Cold War for Schools and Teenagers: The Life Adjustment Movement and the Ideology of Maturity * Communist Teacher Problematic: Liberal Anticommunism and the Education of Bella Dodd * Progressive Education is Red-ucation: Conservative Thought and Cold War Educational Vigilantism * Crisis of the Mind: The Liberal Intellectuals and the Schools * From World-Mindedness to Cold War-Mindedness: The Lost Educational Utopia of Theodore Brameld * Desegregation as Cold War Experience: The Perplexities of Race in he Blackboard Jungle* Growing Up Absurd in the Cold War: Sputnik and the Polarized Sixties * Conclusion: The Educational Reproduction of the Cold War

Andrew Hartman is Assistant Professor of History, Illinois State University.

3 Thoughts on this Post

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  1. Professor Hartman,

    Your book appears to provide a comprehensive platform for the study of cold war era educational attitudes and fears that spilled into a more recent generation. (“Put your heads under your desks, children, it might be those evil communists with nuclear bombs!” Or was it “duct tape, plastic sheeting and WMD?” I can not rightly recall anymore.)

    But my simple question is this…your book should fit a big need for an advanced undergraduate course in 20th Century American History, and American Studies, especially in Ed programs and institutions. Do you and your press plan to release it in a less expensive paperback soon, so we can assign it in public institutions in better faith?

    Can’t wait to read it!


    Joe Petrulionis

  2. Dear Joe:

    Thanks for your kind praise–and before reading it!

    I do hope my book gets put out in an affordable paperback edition. That is up to my editor, and has a lot to do with the response to the book. You can help, if you’re so inclined, as follows (other than purchasing the book):

    1) If you have educational or other institutional affiliations, notify your library about the book.

    2) if you would consider using my book in the course, send my editor a note telling her you would like to see an affordable, paperback edition. Her information:

    Julia Cohen
    Associate Editor
    Palgrave Macmillan
    175 Fifth Avenue, Room 200
    New York, NY 10010
    [email protected]
    tel: (646) 307-5010
    fax: (212) 982-5562


    Andrew Hartman

  3. And one more thing:

    A few weeks ago the question was posed on this blog: how do people integrate intellectual history into their survey courses? I like to think my book serves as a scholarly model for how to understand basic US history–a national narrative–via intellectual history.


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