Mary Dudziak's Cold War Civil Rights is an impressive take on the American race problem of 1950s and 1960s. Legal segregation is viewed in the context of its impact of the Cold War. This Professor of both Law and History has decided that it is pertinent to look at a string of events that happened solely in the United States, and place them within the histories and actions of the rest of the world. Her hypothesis is that much of the Civil Rights legislation passed in the 20th century was a direct result of America's desire to implement democracy as a way of life worldwide. This text is a sort of tale of modern racism, focusing on America, written as a narrative of the relationship between democracy and communism.
Historians often take topics to a micro level, often viewing the subject in a vacuum. This is often done in the context of American history, as scholars might only study women, or cotton plantation owners in the antebellum South, or the Dred Scott decision. In a new examination of the situation at hand, Dudziak puts the "Negro problem" in the center of race discourse in America, capturing a slew of heated domestic moments by proving their impact on foreign affairs. It then materializes into transnational history instead of just American history.
Dudziak begins by discussing the aftermath of World War II and the idea that race discrimination was suddenly unacceptable. She notes that "as presidents and secretaries of state from 1946 to the mid-1960s worried about the impact of race discrimination on U.S. prestige abroad, civil rights reform came to be seen as crucial to U.S. foreign relations."(6) The blatant racism of the United States conflicted with the type of government that it was trying to promote. ...
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...e Great Society was moving forward, the race problem had ended, as far as the foreign countries could see. The impact of domestic problems in the transnational sphere was non-existent; there was no one to impress any longer, even though the Cold War did not officially end until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. In the end, Vietnam was not a part of her dichotomy between Civil Rights and the Cold War, even though the War in Vietnam was definitely a portion of United States interaction in the Cold War. The great point of Cold War Civil Rights is the important of looking at domestic issues in a transnational perspective. Most books and scholarly journal articles cannot see the 1950s and 1960s America from a global standpoint, nor do they make an attempt. Mary Dudziak is one step ahead in this approach; it just makes sense, especially for this particular time period.
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