ChinaTalk: Lessons from American Sovietology

By Jordan Schneider
Friday, July 15, 2022, 10:57 AM

When Churchill announced in 1946 that an iron curtain had descended over Europe, the US government only employed two dozen experts on the Soviet Union. Two years later, with the cold war well underway, the CIA only had 12 Russian speakers.

Over the following decades, philanthropists and the US government started an intellectual mobilization that had profound effects on the course of the cold war. To talk about this, David Engerman, author of Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts, joins the show along with cohosts Chris Miller, a professor at Tufts, and Sam George, who just finished a masters in East Asian studies at Stanford.

We discuss:

  • How America created a cadre of Sovietologists.
  • What their impact was on U.S .policy.
  • Why the experiment ultimately failed.
  • What lessons the story has for contemporary area studies and China studies in particular.

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Outro music: We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel

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