“At last, a study that puts the saga of the 1960s New Left at the University
of Wisconsin–Madison campus into proper context! Matthew Levin has
done a marvelous job, and this book deserves the widest attention both
from scholars and from veterans of the experience.”
Paul Buhle, editor of
History and the New Left: Madison, Wisconsin, 1950–1970
As the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated in the
1950s and 1960s, the federal government directed billions of dollars to Ameri-
can universities to promote higher enrollments, studies of foreign languages and
cultures, and, especially, scientific research. In
Cold War University
, Matthew
Levin traces the paradox that developed: higher education became increasingly
enmeshed in the Cold War struggle even as university campuses became centers
of opposition to Cold War policies. The partnerships between the federal govern-
ment and major research universities sparked a campus backlash that provided
the foundation, Levin argues, for much of the student dissent that followed. At
the University of Wisconsin in Madison, one of the hubs of student political
activism in the 1950s and 1960s, the protests reached their flashpoint with the
1967 demonstrations against campus recruiters from Dow Chemical, the manu-
facturers of napalm.
Levin documents the development of student political organizations in Madi-
son in the 1950s and the emergence of a mass movement in the decade that
followed, adding texture to the history of national youth protests of the time.
He shows how the University of Wisconsin tolerated political dissent even at
the height of McCarthyism, an era named for Wisconsin’s own virulently anti-
Communist senator, and charts the emergence of an intellectual community of
students and professors that encouraged new directions in radical politics. Some
of the events in Madison—especially the 1966 draft protests, the 1967 sit-in
against Dow Chemical, and the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing—have become part
of the fabric of “The Sixties,” touchstones in an era that continues to resonate in
contemporary culture and politics.
Matthew Levin
teaches high school social studies in McFarland, Wisconsin. He
received his PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
LC: 2012035302 F
248 PP. 6 X 9 24 B/W PHOTOS
E-BOOK $19.95 ISBN 978-0-299-29283-6
Studies in American Thought
and Culture
Paul S. Boyer, Series Editor
“A compelling portrait of how Madi-
son, Wisconsin, became an enduring
hotbed for creative political activ-
ism. By capturing the complexity of
a campus that combines intellectual
elitism with populist commitments
and progressive inspirations with
conservative Midwestern inhibi-
tions, Levin shows how motivated
students remain connected to a
long history that transfers ideas and
practices across generations.”
Suri, author of
Liberty’s Surest Guard-
ian: American Nation-Building from the
Founders to Obama
O f r e l a t e d i n t e r e s t
“This well-written, well-organized, and well-
argued book offers the first complete analysis
of Populist influence on public higher educa-
tion in the United States in the late nine-
teenth century.”—Adam R. Nelson, author of
Education and Democracy
LC: 2011011569 LB 266 PP. 6 × 9
E-BOOK $19.95 ISBN 978-0-299-28463-3
Studies in American Thought
and Culture
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