The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War
David H. Price, Duke University Press, 2008
“Warfare and anthropology have long intersected in two fundamental ways. This book examines the intersection that occurs when anthropologists contribute their professional knowledge and skills to further the military and intelligence endeavors of their nation at war.”
So begins the new book by David H. Price ’83, associate professor of anthropology at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash. Wielding the Freedom of Information Act with uncommon skill, Price gives us access to a stunning amount of previously secret information about how anthropologists were tapped to gather, interpret and suggest uses for intelligence in support of the war effort. Price states that it is not his intention to pass judgment but to present information in the cause of greater understanding.
“But I also wish to examine the past from a presentist perspective,” he says. “Not to heap scorn and criticism on those who lived before us, but to better understand anthropology’s present predicament and choices so that contemporary and future anthropologists can learn from this past.”
It might not be a stretch to call this book social science as cautionary tale, but the robust writing style makes this scholarly work a wonderful read.