11-1 | Little Cold Warriors: American Childhood in the 1950s

Book Review

Little Cold Warriors: American Childhood in the 1950s

Victoria M. Grieve
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018. Introduction, and index. 205 pp. $75.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780190675684

by Peter N Stearns

First Paragraph:

The first thing to note about Little Cold Warriors: American Childhood in the 1950s is that it is mistitled. The subject centers on efforts to influence and use children in the cold war—American children, but also children of other nationalities—not 1950s childhood per se. Of course, the subjects interrelate—the author offers interesting evidence about the varied exposures of American school-aged children to cold-war propaganda and programs. And she is at pains to urge us to realize that the 1950s were not some return to childhood innocence marred only by civil-defense warnings. But she makes no effort to place cold war elements in any larger context or to show their impact (as opposed, for example, to other factors including the Baby Boom). Though children’s views emerge periodically, the real focus rests on government and corporate policies aimed at the young. This means, among other things, that the main findings do not clearly link to patterns of children’s play.