Cloth $74.00 ISBN: 9780226043586 Published October 2009
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226043593 Published October 2009
E-book $7.00 to $26.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226043463 Published October 2009

In Time of War

Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq

Adam J. Berinsky

Adam J. Berinsky

360 pages | 70 line drawings, 38 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009
Cloth $74.00 ISBN: 9780226043586 Published October 2009
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226043593 Published October 2009
E-book $7.00 to $26.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226043463 Published October 2009

From World War II to the war in Iraq, periods of international conflict seem like unique moments in U.S. political history—but when it comes to public opinion, they are not. To make this groundbreaking revelation, In Time of War explodes conventional wisdom about American reactions to World War II, as well as the more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Adam Berinsky argues that public response to these crises has been shaped less by their defining characteristics—such as what they cost in lives and resources—than by the same political interests and group affiliations that influence our ideas about domestic issues.

 

With the help of World War II–era survey data that had gone virtually untouched for the past sixty years, Berinsky begins by disproving the myth of “the good war” that Americans all fell in line to support after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack, he reveals, did not significantly alter public opinion but merely punctuated interventionist sentiment that had already risen in response to the ways that political leaders at home had framed the fighting abroad. Weaving his findings into the first general theory of the factors that shape American wartime opinion, Berinsky also sheds new light on our reactions to other crises. He shows, for example, that our attitudes toward restricted civil liberties during Vietnam and after 9/11 stemmed from the same kinds of judgments we make during times of peace.

 

With Iraq and Afghanistan now competing for attention with urgent issues within the United States, In Time of War offers a timely reminder of the full extent to which foreign and domestic politics profoundly influence—and ultimately illuminate—each other.

Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University

In Time of War is a must read for students of public opinion and American political history and foreign policy. Berinsky’s careful research shows decisively the value of public opinion data—both new and old—and how such data can correct misperceptions about recent history as well as challenge misperceptions, if not myths, about the past and its often idealized politics.”

Matthew Baum, Harvard University

“Adam Berinsky’s core insight, that citizens respond far more to elite discourse about events than to the events themselves, persuasively refutes the dominant perspective in the literature on public opinion and American foreign policy. Rather than relying solely on a reanalysis of data from recent conflicts, Berinsky also undertakes a unique historical expedition into public opinion during World War II. This allows him to present a comprehensive picture across seven decades, resulting in a tour de force of methodologically rigorous and theoretically rich public opinion research.”

Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego

“Adam Berninsky’s In Time of War represents a major step forward in our understanding of American public opinion and foreign policy. His penetrating analysis of survey data on public reactions to wars ranging from World War II through Afghanistan and Iraq casts new and provocative light on a variety of controversies in the literature. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest, scholarly or otherwise, in the subject.”

Paul R. Brewer | Public Opinion Quarterly
"A major advancement in scholarship on a topic that is both timely . . . and of enduring importance. In addition to being a persuasive piece of research, it is a highly readable book that would make an ideal text for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses. Indeed, the core of the book . . . should be required reading for any course on public opinion about foreign policy."
Times Higher Education Supplement
"[Berinsky] assembles some impressive and disturbing statistics that will confirm some readers' worst doubts about how little reasoning goes into American popular feeling about their country's wars."
Contents

List of Figures  

List of Tables   

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1. Introduction: America at War

Part I. Historical Perspective

Chapter 2. Public Opinion and War: A Historical Perspective

Chapter 3. The Myths and Meaning of Public Opinion and World War II

Part II. The Structure of Support for War

Chapter 4. The Calculation of Costs: An Innocent Public

Chapter 5. Partisan Structure of War Support: Events, Elites, and the Public

Chapter 6. Ethnic Groups: Attachments, Enmities, and Support for War

Part III. Public Opinion and War: Back to the Water’s Edge

Chapter 7. Civil Liberties and War

Chapter 8. Elections during Wartime

Chapter 9. Conclusions

Appendix A: Description of Data and Weighting

Appendix B: Iraq War Casualty Survey Analysis

Appendix C: Congressional Record Content Analysis

Appendix D: Statistical Significance of Ethnic Variables

Appendix E: Relationship between Support for War and Support for Restricting Civil Liberties  

Appendix F: NES Analysis of Retrospective War Support

Notes

References

Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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