Culture. Politics. Thick, impenetrable tension. Post-1945 America. Professor Robert Bresler broaches these interwoven themes in Us vs. Them: American Political and Cultural Conflict from WWII to Watergate, a reader in the American Visions series. Offering a broad overview of the interrelationship of culture and politics in the second half of the twentieth century, Us vs. Them is an exploration of the historical roots of America's current cultural wars. In the extended essay that constitutes the first half of the book, Professor Bresler offers a seamless introduction to the intermingling of American politics and culture, from the rise of an American consensus in the immediate postwar period to its inevitable decline in the 1960s and early 1970s. Part II consists of documents and readings that illustrate and buttress Bresler's argument including political manifestos and excerpts from the works of major essayists such as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Mary McCarthy, and Norman Podhoretz. Lending a flavor of contemporary debate, this documentary material allows an integrative approach to politics and culture. Valuable for instructors who want to blend political ideas and cultural controversy into their American studies, American history, or political science courses, Us vs. Them gives students a key to understanding contemporary cultural politics. This important compilation is a guide to post-1945 America that places the evolution of political institutions-the presidency, Congress, the courts-within a broad cultural context.
Robert J. Bresler is professor of public policy at the School of Public Affairs, Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg.