Book Review

1124 words - 5 pages

Thomas Fousek’s To Lead The Free World investigates the origins of the cold war. Yet unlike other scholars that have looked at the political origins of it, Fousek investigates the impact that nationalist public thinking and the role of the media had in the origins of the cold war. Within the book he looks at the role that media outlets, advertisements, labour unions, and public opinion at large played in the outbreak of the Cold War. He does this all in an attempt to answer the question how American nationalism and nationalist symbolism contributed to the origins of the cold war. Fousek highlights how the opinions and attitudes of these organizations changed from immediately after the Second World War, all the way up the 1950’s. Fousek does is successful at his task of convincing the reader that it was not only the American and Russian government that caused the cold war, but it was also the American public and major American organizations that lead to the origins of the cold war.
To begin his argument and explanation, Fousek relies on describing what America was like immediately after the war had ended. He makes a specific statement that many politicians believed that the citizens of the United States would not want the government to involve itself in international affairs. Beginning the book with this point gives Fousek the basics of his argument. It gives the reader a starting point, and something that they can look back to when they are later in the book. More importantly it shows how American public opinion evolved throughout the following years, up until the 1950’s.
While looking at American public opinion it is important to look at the events that influence them too. Of these one of the biggest influences is the speeches that President Truman held after the atomic bomb had been dropped. In these speeches Truman declared that the atomic bomb was a gift from God, and that the victory in Europe had been a victory for a way of life, not just a country. With this, Fousek invokes that America has God on their side. It is also at this point that Fousek makes the first use of sources that strongly echo the public opinion.
Throughout the book, one of the main sources that Fousek relies on in order to get the opinions and thoughts of the public are the letters that were sent into President Truman. More importantly he does not only rely on prominent public figures, instead, he also uses letters that were just sent from the general public. One of the public opinions that was echoed in the early letters that Truman received after his speech about the atomic bombs was that it was truly a victory for not only America, but also the American way of life. With this the first rise of American public opinion is shown. Not only did the public believe that this was a victory for the country. They believed, and congratulated the president, for making the American way of life winning across the globe.
Racial differences also need to be mentioned...

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