Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930's America

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9780226465838: Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930's America
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The debate over scientists' social responsibility is a topic of great controversy today. Peter J. Kuznick here traces the origin of that debate to the 1930s and places it in a context that forces a reevaluation of the relationship between science and politics in twentieth-century America. Kuznick reveals how an influential segment of the American scientific community during the Depression era underwent a profound transformation in its social values and political beliefs, replacing a once-pervasive conservatism and antipathy to political involvement with a new ethic of social reform.

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The role played by scientists in American politics of the 1930s has not been well documented. Kuznick (History, American Univ.) goes a long way in correcting this deficiency. He discusses in depth Franz Boas and his work in repudiating racism. By using manuscript materials in government and university archives relating to scientists of the period (Harlow Shapley, Norbert Wiener, et al.), Kuznick leaves no doubt about the involvement of the scientific community in political life in the period. Kuznick's extensive reading of the periodical literature reminds us of the wealth of historical information in the scientific journal collections in our libraries. This is a fascinating book for lay reader and specialist alike, providing new insights into the "dirty Thirties" and the fight against fascism in America. Frances Groen, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Publisher: University Of Chicago Press, 1989
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