In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 201 the personal computer. At the same time, Americans tend to be myopic about the social costs of technological change and the problems that result from the unanticipated consequences of the introduction of new technologies . While at one point Segal indicates that Americans may have reached a cultural utechnological plateau," balancing enthusiasm for technological change with a recognition of its costs, his final essay on Toffler, the Epcot Center and other contemporary examples of "technological optimism" is more pessimistic about the prospects that Americans can maintain this balanced perspective. Segal's work contains some valuable insights on the cultural incidence of technology in America and has some interesting analyses of the writings of assorted technological utopians and dystopians, but the structure of the book is not entirely satisfactory. Rather than producing an integrated history of America's ambivalent relationship with technology, Segal has produced a series of essays on the subject, some of which are quite good and some of which (including a discussion of de Tocqueville and "modernization theory") do not seem to be clearly connected to the main theme of his work. At the same time, this is a stimulating collection that confirms Segal's position as a historian (and critic) of the role of technology in American culture. Graham D. Taylor Dalhousie University Ron Robin. The Barbed-Wire College: Reeducating German POWs in the United States during World War II. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. Pp. xi + 217 and illustrations. This study, contrary to what a casual glance at its title would suggest, is not especially concerned with the experience of those German prisoners of war (POWs) incarcerated in the United States during, and in the months following1 the Second World War. On this score1the definitive work remains Arnold Krammer's Nazi Prisonersof War in America (1979). Rather, BarbedWire College constitutes something more akin to a work of American 202 Canadian Review of American Studies Revue canadienned'etudesamericaines intellectual history or, as the author himself puts it, a "social history of an intellectual endeavor" (12). More specifically, Ron Robin explores the reeducation of German POW s with two goals in mind: on the one hand, he is concerned with American concepts of POW reeducation, in both theory and practice; on the other, he seeks to portray this footnote in American intellectual (and indeed, military) history as a battle in the war then being waged in the United States around the decline of the liberal arts. The author certainly achieves his first objective, but is less successful in realizing the second. Some 430,000 Axis POWs were interned in the United States during the war, an estimated 380,000 of them German. While little thought was initially given to the reeducation of these men as ideological instruction was forbidden by the Geneva Convention(s), an interest in the reeducation of the captive Germans began to emerge in 1944. This, according to Robin, was a function of the misgivings in the Departments of War and State over Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau's now infamous plan for the pacification of postwar Germany. High-ranking opponents of the Morgenthau plan preferred a rehabilitative rather than punitive approach to what they perceived to be Germany's endemic military and authoritarian traditions. With the war still in progress, the reeducation of the POW population was seen as something of a test case. The problem, as Robin asserts, was that "The endorsement of reeducation was not derived from any meaningful assessment of the task at hand; it was a political decision based on domestic considerations11 (29). In a methodical and concise manner, the author convinces the reader that the experiment was doomed from the start, and he traces the failure of reeducation to the fact that the men given responsibility for the program made virtually no meaningful attempt to understand either the rank-and-file POW or the social dynamic at work in the camps. This, the reader learns, was a reflection of the cultural prejudices of the officers and civilians assembled to lead the so-called Special Projects Division (SPD). For instance, the head of the SPD, Edward Davison-a recently-naturalized American, Royal Navy veteran, university professor and minor...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 201-204
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.