Carroll Pursell tells the story of the evolution of American
technology since World War II. His fascinating and surprising
history links pop culture icons with landmarks in technological
innovation and shows how postwar politics left their mark on
everything from television, automobiles, and genetically engineered
crops to contraceptives, Tupperware, and the Veg-O-Matic.
Just as America's domestic and international policies became
inextricably linked during the Cold War, so did the nation's public
and private technologies. The spread of the suburbs fed into
demands for an interstate highway system, which itself became
implicated in urban renewal projects. Fear of slipping into a
postwar economic depression was offset by the creation of "a
consumers' republic" in which buying and using consumer goods
became the ultimate act of citizenship and a symbol of an "American
Way of Life."
Pursell begins with the events of World War II and the
increasing belief that technological progress and the science that
supported it held the key to a stronger, richer, and happier
America. He looks at the effect of returning American servicemen
and servicewomen and the Marshall Plan, which sought to integrate
Western Europe into America's economic, business, and technological
structure. He considers the accumulating "problems" associated with
American technological supremacy, which, by the end of the 1960s,
led to a crisis of confidence.
Pursell concludes with an analysis of how consumer technologies
create a cultural understanding that makes political technologies
acceptable and even seem inevitable, while those same political
technologies provide both form and content for the technologies
found at home and at work. By understanding this history, Pursell
hopes to advance a better understanding of the postwar American
Subjects: Technology, History, History of Science & Technology
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