men have died and fought in this war.”nAfter the bloodshed of the world war,nthe world looked with expectation to annew era of peace and internationalnharmony to be guaranteed by the UnitednNations organization. The greatntragedy of 1945 was that it was not tonbe. Internecine conflict appears to benthe endemic state of modern man, andnthe United Nations—far from servingnas a force for peace—has become anforum for the most intense ideologicalnand national hatreds. Indeed, if any onenthing symbolizes the frustrated hopes ofn1945 it is the pathetic organization tonwhich Roosevelt seemed to attach sonmuch importance.nRobert Kee’s 1945 is a sprightly overviewnof this year, perhaps the mostnimportant of our century. It was inn1945 that the bloodiest war in historynended, that the most devastating andninhumane weapon in history was used,nand that one of the crudest dictatorshipsnof all time was defeated. Nineteennforty-five also saw the emergence of thenSoviet Union as one of the two majornworld powers, the eruption of anticolonialnmovements throughout Asia andnAfrica, and the acceptance by the UnitednStates of a major and permanent rolenin peacetime international politics.nKee describes the response of thenWest, primarily the English, to thesenmomentous developments. Havingnserved in the Royal Air Force during thenwar and written several volumes innBritish history, Kee’s focus on Englandn<n>nis understandable, although Americannreaders might find his emphasis unbalanced.nThus he spends less than twonpages discussing the transition in Aprilnfrom FDR to Truman, while he devotesnan entire chapter to the British electionnof July which resulted in Clement Attlee’snouster of Churchill.nConcerned with the perception of thenyear’s events rather than with the eventsnthemselves, Kee seeks to show how thenwar was presented to the public and, innturn, how the man in the street respondednto such things as the discoverynof German atrocities, the dropping ofnthe atomic bomb, and the wartimeneconomic shortages. For his sources, henturns to the major British, American,nand French newspapers and magazines,nas well as to the BBC’s broadcasts. “Mynmethod,” Kee writes, “has been to relaynthe picture which a reader of Britishnand American newspapers and listenersnto radio broadcasts might have received.n. . . Newspapers, for all their obviousnlimitations, often preserve details andnemphases which can otherwise disappearnin the sweep of later overall assessment.”nImplicit in this approach is thenbelief that the best way to find out hownthe war looked to the average person isnto read the newspapers and radio broadcastsnof the time, and that editorials andnletters to the editor and radio broadcastsnare an accurate barometer of publicnopinion.nThis approach is at best problematic.nThe study of public opinion is one ofnthe more arcane branches of socialnscience. Do we really know what thenaverage person thinks of his world,nassuming for a moment that it reallynconcerns him, and do we really knownthe power of the Manchester Guardiannor the Washington Post to mold suchnthinking? And does it really matter?nDoes the man in the street have anyninfluence over the elites who shapenpolicy?nCultural and social historians havenargued that a better way to approachnmass opinion is through the study ofncultural artifacts. Many claim that thenmovies provide a more accurate picturenof public attitudes than the editorialnpages of major newspapers and magazines,nand that they exert a more powerfulninfluence on these attitudes. Bestsellingnnovels, comic strips, andnbillboards also provide glimpses of massnopinion. Today, television undoubtedlynprovides the most complete imagenof public opinion, and it is also thenmost influential force in shaping thatnopinion.nThis caveat regarding the relationshipnbetween newspapers and publicnopinion is not fatal to 1945. If newspapersndo not mirror popular thought,nthey do reflect elitist thinking, and thisnmight be even more important to understand.nAnd besides, 1945 is a goodnread. ccnEdward S. Shapiro is professor ofnhistory at Seton Hall University.nV.U^^^^AVV Announcing two new titles in the Occasional Papers seriesn#13 TAKING THE BLINDERS OFF John A. Howard, president of The Rockford Institute writes that while moral relativitynhas triumphed in America, there are hopeful signs for the future.n#14 THE TRAGEDY OF SEX EDUCATION Policy analyst Edward J. Lynch critiques the new curriculum proposed for thenNew York City schools.nTitlenD #13 Taking the Blinders Off byjohn A. HowardnD #14 TheTragedyofSexEducation byEdwardJ. LynchnD # 9 On Strategy and Politics by Mackubin T.OwensnD #10 Straight Talk on the Economy byEdsonfGaylordnD #11 Soviet Global Strategy by Faith Ryan WhittleseynD #12 Our National Self-Confidence by Allan C. Carlsonn(SeejKderforin below for additional titles available in this series.)_nSl.OOea.nS2.00ea.nS.35ea.nS.35ea.nS.35ea.nS.35ea.ngty. Amt.nAmount due: S_nPostageandhandling:Add$.50fororderstotallingS0 – 4.99 Add $ 1.00 for orders totalling S 5.00 or more S_nU.S. Dollars Only. Please make check or money order payable to The Rockford Institute. Total Amount Due: S^nNamenCity_n. Addressn.State _Zip_nThe Rockford In s t it ut e * 9 3 4 North Main StreefRo ckfo rcflllinois*61l03nnnOcP85nMARCH 1986/37n