Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What is Jon Wiener reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jon Wiener, author of How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America.

His entry begins:
I’m still thinking about how we remember the Cold War. The new book by Kristen Iversen, Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, is an unforgettable work that brings together the personal and the political in the story of a little-known disaster at a plutonium factory west of Denver.

One of the highlights of my history grad seminar is...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Hours after the USSR collapsed in 1991, Congress began making plans to establish the official memory of the Cold War. Conservatives dominated the proceedings, spending millions to portray the conflict as a triumph of good over evil and a defeat of totalitarianism equal in significance to World War II. In this provocative book, historian Jon Wiener visits Cold War monuments, museums, and memorials across the United States to find out how the era is being remembered. The author’s journey provides a history of the Cold War, one that turns many conventional notions on their heads.

In an engaging travelogue that takes readers to sites such as the life-size recreation of Berlin’s “Checkpoint Charlie” at the Reagan Library, the fallout shelter display at the Smithsonian, and exhibits about “Sgt. Elvis,” America’s most famous Cold War veteran, Wiener discovers that the Cold War isn’t being remembered. It’s being forgotten. Despite an immense effort, the conservatives’ monuments weren’t built, their historic sites have few visitors, and many of their museums have now shifted focus to other topics. Proponents of the notion of a heroic “Cold War victory” failed; the public didn’t buy the official story. Lively, readable, and well-informed, this book expands current discussions about memory and history, and raises intriguing questions about popular skepticism toward official ideology.
Read more about How We Forgot the Cold War at the University of California Press website, and read Chapter 1, "Hippie Day at the Reagan Library."

Learn more about the book and author at Jon Wiener's website.

Writers Read: Jon Wiener.

--Marshal Zeringue