Review of "Redefining Science: Scientists, the National Security State, and Nuclear Weapons in Cold War America" by Paul Rubinson

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Book Review

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Choice Reviews Online




In keeping with the national security state established in the aftermath of WW II, the federal government redefined science as a technical endeavor critical to national security. According to historian Rubinson (Bridgewater State Univ.), many scientists embraced patriotic though pragmatic tactics to conform to prevailing US nuclear strategy and policy, while those advocating disarmament on moral grounds lost favor with policy makers. By the 1980s, however, these “unpatriotic” scientists found new relevance in the growing grassroots anti-nuclear movement in the US and abroad and were joined by many of their previously technocratic compatriots to call for disarmament on ethical grounds. Rubinson ably describes this evolution through several poignant case studies that trace the government-orchestrated Cold War science consensus and isolation of scientific dissent to the breakdown of the redefinition of Cold War science and return of moral-based activism among scientists. This thought-provoking, compelling book delivers an important reexamination of US Cold War nuclear strategy and science policy.