This is a very polished, well-argued book that draws on a deep reservoir of archival materials. . . . The marvelous diversity of the case studies reinforces the main theme, which is that the Cold War consensus was not as solid as we have thought—or have been led to believe by previous scholarship. . . . Friedman’s manuscript is a rumination on cold war citizenship, but it leads us to reconsider all moments in American history—well beyond her chronology here—in which citizenship was contested (and when wasn’t it, frankly?). The episodes Friedman uncovers are absolutely crucial civics lessons that should enter the mainstream of our teaching on the postwar/cold war years.

Laura McEnaney, author of Civil Defense Begins at Home

In the wake of 9/11, many Americans have deplored the dangers to liberty posed by a growing surveillance state. Citizenship in Cold war America moves beyond the standard security/liberty dichotomy, weaving together often forgotten episodes of early Cold War history to reveal how the obsession with national security enabled dissent and fostered new imaginings of democracy.

The stories told here capture a wide-ranging debate about the workings of the national security state and the meaning of American citizenship. Some of the participants in this debate—women like war bride Ellen Knauff and Pentagon employee Annie Lee Moss—were able to make their own experiences compelling examples of the threats posed by the national security regime. Others, such as Ruth Reynolds and Lolita Lebrón, who advocated an end to American empire in Puerto Rico, or the psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, who sought to change the very definition of national security, were less successful. Together, however, they exposed the gap between democratic ideals and government policies.

In this study, I  traverse immigration law and loyalty boards, popular culture and theoretical treatises, U.S. courtrooms and Puerto Rican jails, to demonstrate how Cold War repression made visible in new ways the unevenness and limitations of American citizenship. Highlighting the ways that race and gender shaped critiques and defenses of the national security regime, I offer new insight into the contradictions of Cold War political culture.

For a glimpse of some of the citizenship stories encountered in the book, click on the images below: