Innocent Weapons

The Soviet and American Politics of Childhood in the Cold War

By Margaret Peacock

300 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3344-2
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1858-6
    Published: August 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4642-6
    Published: August 2014

New Cold War History

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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, Margaret 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.

Groups on either side of the Iron Curtain pushed visions of endangered, abandoned, and segregated children to indict the enemy’s state and its policies. Though the Cold War is often characterized as an ideological divide between the capitalist West and the communist East, Peacock demonstrates a deep symmetry in how Soviet and American propagandists mobilized similar images to similar ends, despite their differences. Based on extensive research spanning fourteen archives and three countries, Peacock tells a new story of the Cold War, seeing the conflict not simply as a divide between East and West, but as a struggle between the producers of culture and their target audiences.

About the Author

Margaret Peacock is associate professor of history at the University of Alabama.
For more information about Margaret Peacock, visit the Author Page.


"Riveting."--Journal of American History

"A provocative rethinking of the role of ideology in the Cold War."--The Russian Review

“[A] masterful understanding of both US and Soviet politics and policy. . . . A distinct and useful contribution to the understanding of the experiences of children and youth during Cold War America as well as priorities and politics of this significant period.”--Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

“Effectively challenges anthropological portrayals of childhood as strictly culture-bound. . . . Leaves us with a deeply uneasy sense of the political polyvalence of children and childhood--not just during the Cold War, but for our contemporary political moment as well.”--Allegra Laboratory

“Peacock highlights the construction of an elaborate play-ground intended to illustrate ‘that American children played in better, more modern, and more enlightened environments than Soviet youth’”--American Quarterly

“Peacock does an excellent job of bringing together both the American and Soviet uses of childhood to justify their respective systems and to mobilize their people.”--Journal of North Carolina Association of Historians

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Follow the author on Twitter @profmpeacock.