More Positive Press for Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War

Another positive review of Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War has appeared, this time in the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford (JASO). The reviewer, Iain Perdue, sees the book’s discussion of Cold War McCarthyism and militarism as a timely intervention in today’s debates, writing:

The issues of ethics and the ramifications of anthropologists performing government work are being revived in a renewed and vigorous debate in the American Anthropological Association on this very subject. The debate arises from social and political circumstances extremely similar to those presented in this book, and this does not go unremarked by its contributors.

Perdue also notes that the book’s “solid contribution” towards addressing the deficit in the current historiography of Cold War American anthropology. The full review section from the journal can be downloaded in PDF format here; my review starts on the third-from-last page of the file.

As an aside, this review coming out a mere 18 months after the book’s U.K. publication is considered “timely” for an academic review. I’ve had reviews of books that were over a year old when they were assigned to me take over two years to appear in print — after the six months I was given to write the review! This review marks the first critical response to the book in an academic journal, which gives me hope that more academic response can be expected in the months ahead.

An academic book is a lot of things, but one of the most important things it is is an entry in an ongoing conversation about one’s discipline. Waiting two, three, or more years to hear back from your colleagues is almost unbearable (though, I suspect, not as unbearable as waiting forever and never getting a response…) so it’s nice to see that the ice is finally starting to thaw a bit.

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