Cold War Dixie
Militarization and Modernization in the American South

Kari Frederickson

How the global war on communism transformed the South


"Cheers to Kari Frederickson for her vital contribution to our understanding of the modern South. Not only does Cold War Dixie uncover the fascinating history of the Savannah River Site—a feat of engineering that was said to have rivaled the building of the Panama Canal—but, more importantly, it connects the story of political and economic modernization in South Carolina with Cold War processes that were transforming areas across the South and Southwest. We need more histories of this kind, studies that connect regional developments to broader national and international processes."
—Joseph Crespino, author of Strom Thurmond's America

"Kari Frederickson presents Cold War Dixie: Militarization and Modernization in the American South, a close scrutiny of the impact of the Savannah River Plant (SRP). . . . Notes, a bibliography, and an index round out this thoughtful close study of a turning point in American history."
Midwest Book Review

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Focusing on the impact of the Savannah River Plant (SRP) on the communities it created, rejuvenated, or displaced, this book explores the parallel militarization and modernization of the Cold War-era South. The SRP, a scientific and industrial complex near Aiken, South Carolina, grew out of a 1950 partnership between the Atomic Energy Commission and the DuPont Corporation and was dedicated to producing materials for the hydrogen bomb. Kari Frederickson shows how the needs of the expanding national security state, in combination with the corporate culture of DuPont, transformed the economy, landscape, social relations, and politics of this corner of the South. In 1950, the area comprising the SRP and its surrounding communities was primarily poor, uneducated, rural, and staunchly Democratic; by the mid-1960s, it boasted the most PhDs per capita in the state and had become increasingly middle class, suburban, and Republican.

The SRP's story is notably dramatic; however, Frederickson argues, it is far from unique. The influx of new money, new workers, and new business practices stemming from Cold War-era federal initiatives helped drive the emergence of the Sunbelt. These factors also shaped local race relations. In the case of the SRP, DuPont's deeply conservative ethos blunted opportunities for social change, but it also helped contain the radical white backlash that was so prominent in places like the Mississippi Delta that received less Cold War investment.

Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South

Page count: 256 pp.
12 b&w photos, 2 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Kari Frederickson is an associate professor and chair of the department of history at the University of Alabama. She is author of The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968 and coeditor of Making Waves: Female Activists in Twentieth-Century Florida.