Defending the American Way of Life: Sport, Culture, and the Cold War (Sport, Culture, and Society) (Paperback)

Defending the American Way of Life: Sport, Culture, and the Cold War (Sport, Culture, and Society) By Toby C. Rider (Editor), Kevin B. Witherspoon Cover Image
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Winner, 2019 NASSH Book Award, Anthology.

The Cold War was fought in every corner of society, including in the sport and entertainment industries. Recognizing the importance of culture in the battle for hearts and minds, the United States, like the Soviet Union, attempted to win the favor of citizens in nonaligned states through the soft power of sport. Athletes became de facto ambassadors of US interests, their wins and losses serving as emblems of broader efforts to shield American culture—both at home and abroad—against communism.

In Defending the American Way of Life, leading sport historians present new perspectives on high-profile issues in this era of sport history alongside research drawn from previously untapped archival sources to highlight the ways that sports influenced and were influenced by Cold War politics. Surveying the significance of sports in Cold War America through lenses of race, gender, diplomacy, cultural infiltration, anti-communist hysteria, doping, state intervention, and more, this collection illustrates how this conflict remains relevant to US sporting institutions, organizations, and ideologies today.

About the Author

Toby C. Rider is assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton and the author of Cold War Games: Propaganda, the Olympics, and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Kevin B. Witherspoon chairs the Department of History at Lander University. He is the author of Before the Eyes of the Word: Mexico and the 1968 Olympic Games.

Praise For…

“Toby Rider, Kevin Witherspoon, and their collaborators have crafted a focused, thoughtful, and illuminating set of essays that dissect sport’s Cold War arena. They reveal just how intensely the US and the USSR waged the Cold War in a fifth dimension—not via military alliances, economic pacts, political doctrines, or global bodies like the IMF—but via sport. It’s history at its best—explaining sport’s past while showing how that past continues to affect sport today.”
—Rob Ruck, author of Tropic of Football: The Long and Perilous Journey of Samoans to the NFL

“The machinations of the role of sport throughout America’s Cold War battles is both familiar and unexplored territory, something that this fine edited collection makes clear. With this set of probing essays, the editors Toby C. Rider and Kevin B. Witherspoon unpack many untold stories of the sports battles waged between the United States and the Society—and their many satellites—in the decades following World War II. … The book benefits greatly from the multiple perspectives of the diverse array of writers corralled by Rider and Witherspoon, all of whom offer important and intersectional lenses with which to demonstrate why the role of sports in Cold War politics is still a vibrant and critical field for exploration, from the identity politics of race and gender to the anticommunist hysterias that saturated American life.”
—Amy Bass, The Journal of American History, December 2019

“This volume…makes an important contribution to a growing body of work on the cultural Cold War competition for hearts and minds. The volume will also be of interest to scholars in a number of fields, including history, political science, and cultural studies.”
—Jenifer Parks, The Journal of Arizona History, Autumn 2019

Product Details
ISBN: 9781682260760
ISBN-10: 1682260763
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication Date: December 1st, 2018
Pages: 280
Language: English
Series: Sport, Culture, and Society