At a time when Americans dedicate their national holidays to barbecues, sporting events, and driving madly on crowded interstate highways to vacation homes and theme parks, it may be difficult to remember an era when patriotic observance was a matter of high seriousness and legislated pageantry. But now the memory is restored in fascinating detail by Richard M. Fried in the eye-opening The Russians Are Coming! After summarizing such patriotic developments as the sanctification of the American flag and the wide-and occasionally coercive-acceptance of the Pledge of Allegiance, Fried describes how the Ad Council, the American Heritage Foundation, and other organizations created "campaigns to sell America to the Americans" through carefully constructed "rededication" celebrations like "Know Your America" Weeks, Freedom Weeks, and traveling exhibitions such as the Freedom Train, which in the late 1940s brought original copies of seminal American documents directly to cities and towns across the country.
He vividly recreates the spectacle of clashing New York City parades involving thousands of participants, as celebrants of the newly-created Loyalty Day marched in opposition to pro-Communist May Day demonstrations just blocks away. Most startling, though, is Fried's account of how Mosinee, Wisconsin was "invaded" by Communists in a staged media event sponsored by the American Legion. Citizens allowed themselves to be searched at random while local officials acted the part of Stalinists, and the town restaurants were required to serve only potato soup and black bread. Meticulously researched and colourfully told, The Russians Are Coming! recreates an absorbing-and revealing-dimension of American history.
"A wonderful account of civil pagenatry in the McCarthy era, when true patriots observed 'Loyalty Day,' rode the 'Freedom Train,' and marched in 'Wake Up, America' parades. In the crowded field of Cold War scholarship, The Russians are Coming stands out for its originality, its elegant writing, and its often hilarious recreation of the grass-roots struggle against communism in the ominous days of Alger Hiss, atomic air raid drills, and the Korean War.
A must read for anyone interested in modern American history, and a fun read as well."--David Oshinsky, Rutgers University
"Richard Fried's The Russians are Coming is a significant new approach to our understanding of domestic aspects of the cold war. Drawing on a rich array of original sources, Fried shows how a government-private partnership created public pageants to generate popular support for the conflict with the Soviet Union. No other work explains so well how prominent officials and business leaders tried to persuade ordinary people to see connections between
their daily lives and the global competition with the Soviet Union."--Robert D. Schulziner, University of Colorado, Boulder
"The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! illuminates the public spectacles and pageantry which underlie the most colorful notions of the epoch between the end of the Second World War and the rise of a counter-culture. Fried...uncovers the surprising partnership between national ideology and private civic associations that fuelled the era's patriotism. He skillfully traces the quasi-professional networks of concerned citizens who engineered
many star-spangled extravaganzas. Without surrendering a sense of the comedy of Cold War pageantry, Fried brings historical rigor to a piece of social history that is too often exploited as camp. A fine picture
emerges of the 'soft', everyday propaganda that existed alongside the more widely documented, malign culture of McCarthyism."--Times Literary Supplement
"Lively, perceptive, brilliantly written....Offers sometimes chilling and often comical insights."--William E. Leuchtenburg, UNC-Chapel Hill
"Steering clear of present-day debates over who should have named whom, Richard Fried gives us a different view of the home front during the Cold War by focusing not on the leaders of the national security state but on its foot soldiers."--Wisconsin Magazine of History
"The author of two fine books on the McCarthy era, Fried examines with verve and insight ways in which citizens affirmed anticommunism...Fried [shows] that Cold War patriotism on federal, state, and local levels had much in common with elite mobilization of patriotic fervor during the hot war (similar themes and similar players) and that it also borrowed heavily from previous nativist crusades in American history."--The Journal of American History
Introduction: Patriotic Pageantry in America
1. Wake Up, America: Origins of Modern Patriotism
2. Precious Freight: The Freedom Train
3. Capturing the Streets for Loyalty
4. Springtime for Stalin in Mosinee
5. "The Cold War Belongs to Us All": Patriotizing the American Calendar
6. The Cornwallises Send Regrets: Historical Commemoration in the 1950s
7. Patriotic Gore
8. "Shame on Them": The Decline on Cold War Pageantry