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Innocent Weapons

The Soviet and American Politics of Childhood in the Cold War

Margaret E. Peacock

Publication Year: 2014

In the 1950s and 1960s, images of children appeared everywhere, from movies to milk cartons, their smiling faces used to sell everything, including war. In this provocative book, Peacock offers an original account of how Soviet and American leaders used emotionally charged images of children in an attempt to create popular support for their policies at home and abroad.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: The New Cold War History


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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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p. vii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-14

For Soviet and American populations in the late 1940s, the fate of the Cold War was tied to the fate of the young. In the Soviet Union, the slogan “Thank you, Comrade Stalin, for our Happy Childhood!” became a rallying cry for resurgent Soviet power. It symbolized the nation’s recovery from the Great...

I. Building an Image, Building a Consensus

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Chapter 1. The Contained Child on the Cusp of a New Era

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pp. 17-41

On 7 April 1949, Svetlana Zhiltsova, the Pioneer delegate to the Eleventh Congress of the Komsomol, waited nervously to take the stage before a packed auditorium of Communist Party leaders. The topic of her speech was the future of the Pioneer organization, which, under the umbrella of the...

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Chapter 2. The “Other” Child

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pp. 42-70

The construction of the Cold War child was inextricably bound to the formation of social and cultural identities on both sides of the Iron Curtain. But visions of containment could only perform their desired functions if they had a counter-ideal against which they could be compared. In the first...

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Chapter 3. Victims, Hooligans, and the Importance of Threat

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pp. 71-93

The image of the child had still more functions to perform in the construction of a Cold War consensus. Back in 1949, at the Eleventh Komsomol Congress, the young Svetlana Zhiltsova had delivered five minutes of carefully constructed and memorized text meant to establish an idealized vision...

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Chapter 4. Mobilized Childhood Responds to the Threat

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pp. 94-120

On 26 June 1960, the Soviet government marshaled the schools, the Pioneers, the Komsomol, and workers across the country to gather for the first annual Day of Soviet Youth. Writers and editors in the Russian press argued that this upcoming holiday was being held in order to honor the peace-loving...

II. Revising an Ideal

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Chapter 5. Soviet Childhood in Film during the Thaw

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pp. 123-159

From 1956 until roughly 1967, the Soviet Union experienced an unprecedented opening in the arts known as the Thaw. During these years, Communist Party leaders urged artists, writers, and filmmakers to discard some of the more onerous shackles of Socialist Realism and explore the...

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Chapter 6. American Childhood and the Bomb

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pp. 160-192

In the fall of 1961, while Andrei Tarkovsky was busy putting the final touches on Ivan’s Childhood and Serezha was still in the Soviet theaters, mathematician and counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Atomic Energy James R. Newman made a novel suggestion in the pages of the Washington Post...

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Chapter 7. Vietnam and the Fall of an Image

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pp. 193-214

From 1964 to 1973, Soviet and American images of the Cold War child clashed in the propaganda battles of the Vietnam War. Information brokers at the U.S. Joint Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) and at the Soviet State Service for Television and Radio (Gosteleradio) generated vast numbers of pamphlets, television...

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pp. 215-226

In January 1969, Parents’ Magazine published an article entitled “How Russian Schools Compare with Ours.” The cover of the magazine pictured a shadow box holding two girl dolls, dressed in similar garb and each holding a book in one hand and an olive branch in the other. Swirling around them were two...


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pp. 227-254


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pp. 255-272

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pp. 273-274

I owe a great debt of gratitude to many people for making this book possible. I received financial support from the U.S. State Department as a Fulbright- Hays scholar, the Society for the Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth, and the Department...


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pp. 275-286

Series Page

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p. 287

E-ISBN-13: 9781469618593
E-ISBN-10: 1469618591
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469618579
Print-ISBN-10: 1469618575

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 29 halftones
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: The New Cold War History
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OCLC Number: 884270355
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Innocent Weapons

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Children and politics -- Soviet Union -- History.
  • Children and politics -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Children in popular culture -- Soviet Union -- History.
  • Children in popular culture -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Cold War -- Social aspects -- Soviet Union.
  • Cold War -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Cold War -- Political aspects -- Soviet Union.
  • Cold War -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1945-1991.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.
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