Cover image for Truman and Korea : the political culture of the early cold war
Truman and Korea : the political culture of the early cold war
Pierpaoli, Paul G., Jr., 1962-
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 261 pages ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
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DS919 .P54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Detailing for the first time the story of America's homefront during the Korean War, Truman and Korea fills an important gap in the historical scholarship of the postwar era. Paul Pierpaoli analyzes the political, economic, social, and international ramifications of America's first war of Soviet containment, never losing sight of the larger context of the cold war. He focuses on how and why the Truman administration undertook a bloody, inconclusive war on the Korean peninsula while permanently placing the nation on a war footing.

Truman and Korea illuminates the importance of the Korean conflict as a critical turning point in the cold war by examining both the immediate and the long-term domestic and foreign policy effects of the conflict. Pierpaoli addresses such important topics as presidential war powers and debates concerning the Defense Production Act; the inner workings of the many war mobilization agencies; the operations and politics of nationwide price and wage controls; questions concerning cold war tax policies and fiscal and monetary policies; and the evolution of national security policy.

Pierpaoli shows that President Truman's decision to intervene in the Korean War quickly became subsumed by larger cold war concerns. By the autumn of 1950 the Korean mobilization program had become the nation's de facto cold war preparedness program, which would come to span nearly forty years and eight presidential administrations. After 1950 the cold war not only continued to significantly shape political and ideological discourse in the United States but also began to reshape aggregate economic policy. By doing so, it altered the nation's industrial and economic contours, giving birth to the concept of an institutionalized "national security state," which in turn spawned the cold war military-industrial-scientific complex.

Based upon extensive research in the papers and official presidential files of Harry S. Truman, as well as many manuscript collections and records of wartime and government agencies, Truman and Korea offers a new perspective on the Korean War era and its inextricable ties to broader cold war decision making.

Author Notes

Paul G. Pierpaoli, Jr. , is Assistant to the Superintendent and teaches history at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Pierpaoli's book is an in-depth study of the economic consequences to the US of the Korean War, set in the context of the Cold War. Basing his work on an abundance of manuscript materials and other sources, Pierpaoli demonstrates that although the Korean War was very unpopular, especially in its stalemate phase, the Truman administration did a good job in handling its economic consequences. The economy had strong growth, inflation was held in check, and although the president lost his bid to seize the steel companies in 1952, the administration's practices fostered economic stability. One of the high points of this volume is the demonstration of how the Korean War changed the attitude of the government on military spending. The conflict also ushered in vast increases in military spending, most dramatically for the Air Force. This first-rate study breaks new ground in its rich detailing of how the Truman Administration wrestled with trying to determine a balanced economic policy while the nation was at war. Pierpaoli also indicates that the Truman Administration left President Eisenhower a positive economic legacy, allowing him flexibility in his presidency. Finally, both Truman and Eisenhower shared a fear of expending too much on the military and inadvertently creating a "garrison state." General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. A. Yarnell Montana State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Abbreviationsp. xi
Introduction The Trojan Horse of National Securityp. 0
I Nsc-68 and the Outbreak of the Korean War Toward a Piecemeal Mobilization, April-november 1950p. 16
II "an Entirely New War" the Chinese Intervention and the Institutionalization of Rearmament, December-january 1951p. 49
III Labor's Cold Shoulder the Price and Wage Freeze and a Crisis-Filled Spring, February-may 1951p. 82
IV The Politics of Rearmament Guns or Butter or Guns and Butter? June-december 1951p. 119
V Crises of Con&fi;dence the Steel Crisis, Congressional Intransigence, and the Evolution of National Security, January-june 1952p. 160
VI Toward a Tenuous Normalcy Decontrol and the General's Arrival, July 1952-february 1953p. 195
Conclusion: Toward an American Sparta? Legacies of the Korean Erap. 224
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 255