The Cold War and American Science: The Military-industrial-academic Complex at MIT and Stanford

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Columbia University Press, 1993 - Education - 332 pages
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Assessing the World War I alliance between big business and academic science, the scholar and critic Randolph Bourne prophetically argued that the university would ultimately be "degraded from its old, noble ideal of a community of scholarship to a private commercial corporation". In The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford, Stuart Leslie shows how the post-World War II alliance of the U.S. military, high technology corporations, and academia redefined and degraded both American science and the American university. Using MIT and Stanford as case studies, Leslie offers a critical and compelling look at this new American science in the making. He reveals the misplaced priorities and missed opportunities that have characterized the recent history of science and technology in this country. And he demonstrates how defense spending put the heat in "Silicon Valley Fever" and the magic in the "Massachusetts Miracle", with significant implications for American competitiveness. Throughout, Leslie illuminates the manifold consequences of the academic-military partnership in terms of its impact on scholarly research, intellectual freedom, and scientific progress. The book concludes with vivid descriptions of the protests against campus military research that shook Stanford and MIT in the late 196Os. The Cold War and American Science is a cautionary tale about the militarization of science at the expense of research in the civilian sector. Leslie notes the high price of decades of military control over America's high-technology agenda: "While the 'benefits' of the military/industrial/academic complex have been amply demonstrated in successivegenerations of sophisticated weapons systems, so have the costs, in an American science and engineering dominated by the same mindset that made those weapons possible in the first place".

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Review "An eye-opener. During the Second World War, American universities won R& D contracts far bigger than those awarded to industrial giants.... Leslie shows how these seductive handouts finally ... Read full review


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