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Wed, May 17, 2017

Elvis's Army: Cold War GIs and the Atomic Battlefield

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This lecture is held in the multipurpose rooms of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The building opens at 6:30 p.m., the talk begins at 7:15 p.m., and the question period concludes around 8:30 p.m. All are welcome, and the event is free! For further information, please call 717-245-3972

May 17, 2017 (Wednesday)
Perspectives in Military History Lecture Series with Brian McAllister Linn

Brian McAllister Linn
Lecture Date: May 17, 2017
Ralph R. Thomas Professor in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University
Title: "Elvis's Army: Cold War GIs and the Atomic Battlefield"

By the late 1950s, the Cold War threatened every American with world-ending thermonuclear annihilation. To help stem the bone-chilling fear gripping the country in the wake of fears over Soviet aggression, the U.S. Army pushed a radically new method of warfare into the public consciousness. The Army claimed it could, and would, limit the atomic warfare to the battlefield by revolutionizing its equipment, organization, and training practices. The Army showed the world their new face, placing large parts of the Army in buffer zones like Germany and Korea, testing portable nuclear weapons, and recruiting young, motivated, professional Soldiers. The Army accented its effort by recruiting none other than Elvis Presley, demonstrating that even this icon of youth culture was not too cool to wear the Army's uniform. On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center will present a lecture from Dr. Brian M. Linn to tell the story of Elvis and the Cold War's Soldiers.

To reinforce the changes the Army was making to how it presented its reaction to the nuclear threat, they drafted Elvis Presley in 1958. Elvis quickly became a model Soldier in an army facing the unprecedented challenge of building a fighting force for the Atomic Age. The Army of the 1950s was America's most racially and economically egalitarian institution, providing millions with education and opportunity. With the cooperation of both the Army and the media, military service became part of this generation’s identity, a common theme in television, music, and movies. Dr. Linn traces the origins, evolution, and ultimate failure of the Army's attempt to transform itself for atomic warfare, revealing its vital role in the making of Cold War America.

Brian McAllister Linn is the Ralph R. Thomas Professor in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He is the author of five books on American military history, including Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940 (1997). The Philippine War, 1899-1902 (2000), The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War (2007), and Elvis's Army: GIs and the Atomic Battlefield (2016). He has published widely and given numerous international lectures on the American Way of War, counterinsurgency, and the U.S. Army. He has been awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Birmingham, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Woodrow Wilson International Center Fellowship, and the Bosch Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. In 1999-2000, he was the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College.