Cold War Laboratory
RAND, the Air Force, and the American State, 1945-1950
By Martin J. Collins
(Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Hardcover, 9781588340863, 275pp.)
Publication Date: November 17, 2002
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
In 1946, before the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Army Air Forces established Project RAND -- a groundbreaking 'think tank' designed to link leaders in the military and aircraft industry. The new organization was a response to fears that long-range bombers, guided missiles, and atomic bombs inaugurated a new era of danger. Modern war was now total war, a contest between entire societies, and demanded the commitment of peacetime preparation.
Science and technology were crucial for such preparation, and RAND offered the Air Force a conduit to the expertise of industry and universities. As an institutional crossroads, RAND became a unique place to experiment with methods and ideas to prepare a pluralistic, democratic society for total war.
Martin J. Collins examines the critical years of this experiment through an evolving cast of key individuals: Hap Arnold and MIT professor Edward L. Bowles; Rowan Gaither, president of the RAND board of trustees; Frank Collbohm and Lawrence Henderson, director and associate director of RAND; and mathematician Edwin Paxson, the leader of RAND's first system analysis -- a RAND invention that sought to make a science of the study of war. Collins presents an in-depth examination of the birth of systems analysis and how it combined science, politics, and postwar concerns.
In developing systems analysis, RAND drew on a spectrum of science and engineering disciplines, and from the fields of economics, political science, and sociology. Its research symbolized the new and far-reaching effects of our response to the Cold War.
Martin J. Collins has written and edited many books, including Space Race: The U.S.-U.S.S.R. Competition to Reach the Moon. He is a curator in the Space History Division at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.