In the Shadow of Fear: America and the World in 1950

Basic: Perseus. Oct. 2023. 496p. ISBN 9781541675544. $35. HIST
In the years following World War II, the United States’ economic and industrial output were unmatched. President Harry S. Truman hoped to build on FDR’s New Deal legacy with his Fair Deal: a broad set of liberal reforms, including higher taxes for new infrastructure, education, and a national healthcare plan. Historian Bunker (Making Haste from Babylon) details the months between September 1949 and June 1950 when several crises, domestic and foreign, rocked the Truman administration. Strikes by the mine workers and steelworkers, demanding higher wages and job stability, threatened the United States’ economic boom and coal supply during the winter months. Communists solidified control of China and later signed a pact with the Soviet Union, expanding communism over much of Asia, while in the U.S., Democrats maintained control of the House and Senate, but emboldened conservatives advocated for reduced budgets and lower taxes, derailing many of Truman’s proposals.
VERDICT Based on extensive primary research, this highly readable account highlights these critical months when the U.S. enjoyed its prosperity, and part of the world descended into violence. An important read for those interested in postwar American history, both domestic and abroad.
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