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News Release


Release No: 477-97
September 12, 1997


The Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has published "Into the Missile Age, 1956-1960," Volume IV in its comprehensive History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Series. Written by Robert J. Watson, former chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Historical Division, "Into the Missile Age" examines OSD policies and activities during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's second administration, a key period in the evolution of the Cold War, defense organization, and new weapons technology.

A full-length scholarly history that draws on many materials not previously utilized, "Into the Missile Age" reviews OSD's record as well as the performance of other elements of the national security establishment. Those other elements include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Council, Department of State, and Congress. How they met the challenges of the new nuclear era and the increasing threat from the Soviet Union is covered in this latest volume.

The three secretaries of Defense during this period--Charles E. Wilson, Neil H. McElroy, and Thomas S. Gates Jr.--faced the task of continuing to balance economy and preparedness goals following the Korean War while closing an alleged "missile gap" and developing new strategies to maintain both U. S. and NATO security. "Into the Missile Age" assesses their accomplishments and failure as they struggled with often conflicting pressures to contain the Soviet Union, satisfy allies, meet White House budgetary objectives, and address military service concerns and competition over changing roles and missions.

A major theme throughout the book is the dominant influence of Eisenhower, a commander-in-chief with strong views on defense and unusually strong military credentials and experience.

Previous volumes in the OSD History Series, "The Formative Years, 1947-1950" and "The Test of War, 1950-1953," have won prestigious awards and prizes, including the Richard W. Leopold Prize of the Organization of American Historians. "Into the Missile Age" follows a narrative format and includes many photographs. Copies may be ordered from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 20402-9325.

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