Two Southeast Missouri State University history professors recently penned two new books both published this month by the University of Missouri Press.
Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of Southeast’s Department of History, wrote “Truman, Franco’s Spain, and the Cold War,” which examines the evolution of U.S. policy toward Spain, and how President Harry S. Truman shaped a strategic relationship during a global threat.
Dr. Joel Rhodes, professor of history, authored “Growing Up in a Land Called Honalee: The Sixties in the Lives of American Children,” which explores how Americans born between 1956 and 1970 were influenced and defined by the historical forces of the 1960s as children.
The two books give avid non-fiction readers a glimpse into two periods of time in U.S. history that have had lasting effects on America’s politics and people.
Truman’s disdain for Spain and its government began when he first attempted to enlist at 14years old in the Spanish-American War. Throughout Truman’s early life, Spain represented the “bad guy” and this would later have a deep impact on his foreign policies, said Bowen.
“Additionally, everything he (Truman) believed in and everything that was a part of his identity were repressed in Franco’s government,” said Bowen.
Readers may be aware that Truman was a man of strong opinions, but in his research he discovered that not only was Spain among the list of people, institutions and agencies Truman disliked but his personal opinion had drastic effects on U.S. policy and the economy, he said .
“Because of his reluctance to agree to an alliance with Spain that had been originally proposed during the immediate aftermath of World War II, this delay cost more money and put U.S. security at risk,” he said.
It’s an interesting example of how presidents have an impact on foreign policy and, in the case of Truman, how his personal feelings, held his whole life, influence his presidency and the global Cold War, Bowen said.
The effects of U.S. policy and events are the focus of “Growing Up in a Land Called Honalee.” From presidents, to the Cold War and Vietnam War, Rhodes said he wanted to understand what the historical forces and decisions of the 1960s meant to those who grew up during this time.
“I wanted to examine not only how historical events change the reality of children, but did these events have any consequences for them?” said Rhodes.
Through the assembly of hundreds of recollections and remembrances from adult volunteers, he was able to render how their childhood perspectives of the political, ethical and moral climate of the 1960s influenced them as adults, he said.
“President Kennedy was an incredibly inspiring figure especially for children and teenagers,” said Rhodes. “It’s amazing what a high bar he set, and almost seems to be the standard by which all other presidents after him this generation compares to and often finds lacking.”
Readers will be familiar with how the threat of nuclear war influenced daily life – they may even recall video reels of children donning gas masks and diving under school desks – but in his research he learned these routine measures had deep psychological impressions, Rhodes said.
“There were a number of government programs dedicated to preparing ourselves, from duck and cover to bomb shelters,” he said. “As kids, though, this terrified them, hiding under desks. It didn’t make them feel better, but worse.”
Readers will get a better understanding of how and why this generation is different from the Baby Boomers of World War II, said Rhodes.
“Truman, Franco’s Spain, and the Cold War” and “Growing Up in a Land Called Honalee: The Sixties in the Lives of American Children” are available from the University of Missouri Press. In addition, they are available from Amazon, Target, and everywhere books are sold.
Wayne H. Bowen
Bowen is professor and chair of the Department of History as well as the director of University Studies at Southeast. His published works include “The History of Saudi Arabia” from ABC-Clio/Greenwood, “Spain and the American Civil War” from the University of Missouri Press, Praeger’s “A Military History of Modern Spain: From the Napoleonic Era to the International War on Terror,” coedited with José E. Alvarez, and “Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq,” from University of Nebraska/Potomac Books. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in history, from Northwestern University.
Rhodes is professor of history at Southeast. His published works include “A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck” from the University of Missouri Press, “The Voice of Violence: Performative Violence as Protest in the Vietnam Era” from Praeger, “Haunted Cape Girardeau: Where the River Turns a Thousand Chilling Tales” from Aracadia Publishing, and and Historical Publishing Network’s “Historic Cape Girardeau: An Illustrated History,” coauthored with Tom Neumeyer and Dr. Frank Nickell. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in history, from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Photo Caption: From left, Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of Southeast’s Department of History, and Dr. Joel Rhodes, professor of history at Southeast.