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Around the World with LBJ
Medicine in Translation
U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War Era
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Teaching Minds
From Main Street to Mall
Apollo Pilot

Defending the American Way of LifeDefending the American Way of Life

Sport, Culture, and the Cold War

Toby C. Rider and Kevin B. Witherspoon

Winner, 2019 NASSH Book Award, Anthology

Narrated by Ronald Bruce Meyer

Available from Audible

Book published by The University of Arkansas Press

The Cold War was fought in every corner of society, including in the sport and entertainment industries. Recognizing the importance of culture in the battle for hearts and minds, the United States, like the Soviet Union, attempted to win the favor of citizens in nonaligned states through the soft power of sport. Athletes became de facto ambassadors of US interests, their wins and losses serving as emblems of broader efforts to shield American culture—both at home and abroad—against communism.

In Defending the American Way of Life, leading sport historians present new perspectives on high-profile issues in this era of sport history alongside research drawn from previously untapped archival sources to highlight the ways that sports influenced and were influenced by Cold War politics. Surveying the significance of sports in Cold War America through lenses of race, gender, diplomacy, cultural infiltration, anti-communist hysteria, doping, state intervention, and more, this collection illustrates how this conflict remains relevant to US sporting institutions, organizations, and ideologies today.

Toby C. Rider is assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton and the author of Cold War Games: Propaganda, the Olympics, and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Kevin B. Witherspoon chairs the Department of History at Lander University. He is the author of Before the Eyes of the Word: Mexico and the 1968 Olympic Games.


“Toby Rider, Kevin Witherspoon, and their collaborators have crafted a focused, thoughtful, and illuminating set of essays that dissect sport’s Cold War arena. They reveal just how intensely the US and the USSR waged the Cold War in a fifth dimension—not via military alliances, economic pacts, political doctrines, or global bodies like the IMF—but via sport. It’s history at its best—explaining sport’s past while showing how that past continues to affect sport today.”

—Rob Ruck, author of Tropic of Football: The Long and Perilous Journey of Samoans to the NFL

“An impressive collection that focuses on a variety of themes and issues, Rider and Witherspoon’s book smartly investigates how the Cold War influenced peoples’ experience with sport, and how sport was used to promote Cold War agendas. Anyone who studies the topic should read this engaging volume.”

—Chris Elzey, coeditor of DC Sports: The Nation’s Capital at Play

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University Press Audiobooks