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The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  23 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
We commonly think of the psychedelic sixties as an explosion of creative energy and freedom that arose in direct revolt against the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early Cold War years. Yet, as Fred Turner reveals in The Democratic Surround, the decades that brought us the Korean War and communist witch hunts also witnessed an extraordinary turn toward ...more
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published December 4th 2013 by University Of Chicago Press (first published November 22nd 2013)
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Zara Rahman
Oct 24, 2016 Zara Rahman rated it liked it
I read this as part of a group seminar just after moving from Berlin to NYC, and it was coincidentally very appropriate with my country context. That said, it was pointed out in the seminar by my colleagues that this is very much a story of white people, rather than anything more holistic. It was dense at times, but a fascinating overview of mass media and its role in fascism in Germany, and then its role as propaganda by the US decades later.
Greg Greer
People often think of the 1960's counterculture as a rebellion against the idea of the American dream and 1950's postwar culture. However, according to Fred Turner, the seeds of 1960's liberalism and multiculturalism were largely sewn during the earlier years of WWII. The U.S. sought to create a democratic and freethinking culture and citizen to insulate against a Nazi or fascist mindset in America. Turner's book describes how the U.S. government, psychologists, and artists worked to encourage a ...more
Margaret Sankey
May 26, 2014 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Reacting to the fascist use of media for propaganda, the US gathered artists and social scientists as the Committee for National Morale to respond with media that would cultivate democratic national character, and the results were innovative, Bauhaus-influenced interactive and participatory media like museum exhibits, "happenings," musical performances and radio entertainment meant to strengthen individualism and demand interpretation. That these efforts also swayed into the 1960s ...more
Michael Grasso
Jan 01, 2016 Michael Grasso rated it it was amazing
The threads of "multimedia" and "counterculture" stretch far back into the 1920s and 30s as a group of progressive and constructivist psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, educators, artists, designers, musicians, architects, philosophers, and yes, museum exhibit designers, set the path for the American psyche on both sides of World War II. Masterful; a testament to the importance of museums to a nation's soul.
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Associate Professor
Department of Communication
Stanford University

Director of Stanford’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society
More about Fred Turner...

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