Competing with the Soviets

“Historians of science need little reminding that introductory books—particularly textbooks—are their own disciplinary markers. Wolfe’s synthesis of Cold War academic study will provide a much-needed route into this topic for many undergraduate and more advanced courses. . . . fluent and engaging written.” (read full review)

—Brian Balmer, University College London, in Isis

“The lucidity and organization of Competing with the Soviets recommends it to a cross-section of students. AP high school students might benefit from reading it in the context of a course on US history. Because the book is so rich in the large themes of American history, a history course that features this book would engage students in both U.S. history and history of science. This is perhaps Wolfe’s greatest contribution: the integration of an important episode in U.S. history and history of science.” (read full review)

—Christopher Cumo in History Teacher

Competing with the Soviets is one of the few works of synthesis that actively creates creative and novel interpretations, and it applies these to a well-developed historical literature. . . . [E]ach chapter crackles with arguments and perspectives that keep the reader engaged, and will surprise even those who have been in the field for decades.” (read full review)

—Russell Olwell, Eastern Michigan University, Technology and Culture

“Those looking for a primer on the history of Cold War science and technology in the United States need look no further than Audra Wolfe’s Competing with the Soviets. The book . . . synthesizes an impressive array of recent work to chronicle the history of American science and technology from the beginning of the Cold War to the collapse of the Soviet Union. . . . Her book is as engaging as it is informative.” (read full review)

—Joy Rohde, author of Armed with Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research During the Cold War, on

“In Competing with the Soviets, Audra J. Wolfe provides an excellent overview of Cold War science. She accomplishes the difficult task of synthesizing a massive amount of both history and historiography into a highly readable narrative. . . . Competing with the Soviets is designed as an introductory text, and this is no doubt its primary utility. But professional historians of science can still read it with profit. . . . [M]uch of the value of Wolfe’s work is how she enables readers to reflect on themes with which they may be less familiar.” (read full review)

—David Hecht, Bowdoin College in HSNS

“Scientists’ Cold War romance with the U.S. government produced boom times for research, but it also affected human lives on a scale that in retrospect is shocking. . . . In gamble after gamble the federal government put the futures of American citizens in scientists’ hands. . . .Wolfe takes us from one constellation of promises to the next, showing how scientists tried—and quite often failed—to apply their worldviews to a multitude of society’s problems.” (read full review)

—Jacob Darwin Hamblin, author of Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism, in Chemical Heritage

“[A] trim, elegantly written, masterly, and accessible bundling of what has become, over the last twenty-five years, a big and complex literature. . . . Wolfe has done a marvelous job of X-raying the field, grounding the larger narrative with important case studies. . . . For novice and expert alike, Wolfe’s beautifully presented guide is an excellent place to start.” (read full review)

—Benjamin T. Wilson in Endeavour

“Wolfe displays a great skill for balancing sweeping summary and illuminating detail. . . . The aim—following that of the series in which it appears—is to be an introductory text that offers an engaging and historiographically informed overview, and in this Wolfe succeeds brilliantly. I only regret that I didn’t read the book until after I’d finished my first term teaching the history of 20th century science and technology, and not before.” (read full review)

—Helen Curry, Cambridge University, in American Science

“This is an interesting book, written in an authoritative tone. It provides just enough detail to tell the story, but not too much for an introductory account. . . .[It is] one I strongly recommend to anyone with a burgeoning interest in the study of Cold War science.” (read full review)

—Christopher Hollings, University of Oxford, in the British Journal for the History of Science

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Media/Review Inquiries

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