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Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower, 2nd Edition

Politics as Usual: The Age of Truman and Eisenhower, 2nd Edition

Gary W. Reichard

ISBN: 978-0-882-95226-0 December 2003 Wiley-Blackwell 213 Pages


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Like its predecessor, the second edition of Politics as Usual, treats the decade and a half after World War II as a discrete historical era, the end of which represents a watershed in the political life of the nation. Despite the pressures created by the Cold War and the challenges posed by developing nations, American politics from 1945 to 1960 reflects a relatively stable equilibrium. Although from different political parties, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower shared a basic caution in fiscal affairs and an acceptance of the global responsibilities thrust on the United States after the war. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans continued to contest elections along the familiar fault lines formed during the New Deal, and the American electorate divided its loyalties relatively evenly between the two major parties.

Since 1988, when the first edition of Politics as Usual appeared, much has happened to affect our perspective on American political life during the Truman-Eisenhower years. Of greatest importance, the end of the Cold War and the subsequent opening of significant new sources from “the other side” allow us to see through a different prism the decisions and stances taken by American presidents and policymakers. In addition to considering the impact of the new—and newly informed—historical literature, Reichard gives more attention to the challenges posed by the formation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism in the 1940s and 1950s, the Korean War, the early stages of United States involvement in Vietnam, and CIA operations. This second edition also features a new photographic essay.

Foreword vii

Acknowledgements xii

Preface xiii

Preface to the First Edition xv

Chapter One: Truman's Trial Period, 1945-1948 1

New President, New Problems 2

The Cold War Begins 10

The 1946 Elections 17

The Politics of Containment 20

Truman and the Eightieth Congress 29

The Election of 1948 35

Chapter Two: The Era of Hard Feelings, 1949-1952 48

Frustration of the Fair Deal 49

The End of Bipartisanship 53

The Anti-Communist Crusade 59

The Korean War and American Politics 63

Truman under Siege 75

The Election of 1952 81

Chapter Three: The Eisenhower Equilibrium, 1953-1956 88

The Reaffirmation of Republicanism 89

A New Foreign Policy? 94

The End of McCarthyism 106

The Cooptation of Congress 117

The Politics of Dead Center 123

Eisenhower Ascendant 129

Chapter Four: Endings and Beginnings, 1957-1960 140

The Continuing Problem of Civil Rights 141

Hard Times at Home and Abroad 147

National Security and Party Politics 159

President versus Congress 166

End of an Era: The Election of 1960 170

Conclusion: Reflections on a Political Era 180

Bibliographical Essay 186


Photos follow page 118