The Cold War is Hot (Off the Press): Drs. Boulton and Gibson to Host Book Presentation Following Four-Year Collaboration

Mark your calendars for 12 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in the Hermann Lounge of Hunter Activity Center for a presentation and book signing by Drs. Mark Boulton and Tobias T. Gibson on their recently published work, Red Reckoning: The Cold War and the Transformation of American Life.

Printed by the Louisiana State University Press, the book is composed of 15 essays by historians, political scientists, legal scholars, and a professor of literature. Included among the contributors are Ann V. Collins, Eric Kasper, Angela Keaton, and Kurt Kemper, who gave lectures at Westminster during college-wide celebrations on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Dr. Kurt Jefferson, who previously taught at Westminster, rounds out the book with a last-chapter examination of international sports competitions.

Boulton, who is chair of Westminster’s Department of History, emphasizes that Red Reckoning is more than a typical scholarly work on the Cold War. Those attending the February 12th event or who read the book will find chapters on football, Hollywood, board games, guns and manhood, race relations, and the effects of Reader’s Digest on Harper Lee’s published work.

Essentially, Red Reckoning calls attention to institutions and individuals affected by the great ideological conflict of the 20th century.

“This book is a snapshot of how the Cold War imprinted American life,” Boulton explains. “So we hope readers can be transported back to the era and get a sense of what it was like to live in the shadow of the communist threat. The range of subjects demonstrates how the Cold War permeated almost every facet of American life.”

Gibson, who is Westminster’s Dr. John Langton Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science, adds that tracing the origins of societal change during the Cold War era helps us understand where we are as a society today.

“The era remains pertinent to us in so many ways, in part because we are still living with similar security threats ― both geopolitical and ideological ― and we can use the Cold War to inform discussions, for example, on security versus liberty in such a challenging environment,” he explains.

Approximately 340 pages in length, Red Reckoning took exactly four years to complete and was the result of necessity: Boulton says an equivalent title did not exist for use in his classes. During the Cold War Honors Seminar Boulton teaches, Westminster honors students studied early drafts and also provided editorial feedback.

“Their imprint is very much on the finished product. I sincerely regret that the press did not want an acknowledgements page; otherwise, their names would be in it,” Boulton says.

Red Reckoning will not be the last Boulton/Gibson collaboration. The two professors say they work well together and are planning a project on the presidencies and policies of the FDR and Reagan administrations.

If you miss the Feb. 12th Red Reckoning presentation, you will have the opportunity to attend another book event during Churchill Fellows Weekend, March 22-23. Meanwhile, the book can be purchased at America’s National Churchill Museum (ANCM), in person or online, at the Westminster College Bookstore, and at Purchases made at the ANCM bookstore support the Museum.

In His Own Words: Dr. Mark Boulton Delves Into Dark Tourism

Mark Boulton Image

Please tell a little bit about your most recent research and teaching interests.

I’ll still keep teaching about the Cold War — with a particular emphasis on the Vietnam War, but recently I have recently expanded my research and teaching interests to include dark tourism. This is the term given to places which commemorate moments of tragedy, true crime, death, or the macabre. That can include anything from visiting Civil War battlefields, Ground Zero, or Dealey Plaza, or it can involve taking haunted tours. It is a growing field of study and increasingly is the way many people consume history. I’m currently writing the first of what I hope will be a series of dark tourism books along with Westminster alum Kelsie Slaughter and a colleague from another school.

Last spring, you taught a class called Dark Tourism in the Crescent City: Voodoo, Vampires, and Visions of Death in New Orleans. What do Westminster students think of dark tourism?

The class filled up very quickly, and I think the students had a terrific experience. We got to study the way the New Orleans presents things such as their history of enslavement, French Quarter ghosts, cemeteries, and disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Many of the students have translated that class into capstone experiences in both history and museum studies, and I often get asked, “Where are we going next?” Dark tourism is proving to be very popular among our students and is a valuable addition to their training in history and our ever-growing museum studies program.

Where do you plan to travel next with students who are studying dark tourism?

I’ll definitely return to New Orleans in the near future, but we’re hoping to go to Salem, Massachusetts, next to study the Witch Trials. I’m also planning on taking students and interested alumni further afield and on bringing back the Westminster in Vietnam travel course. I’m laying the groundwork for that and hope to announce details soon.

In His Own Words: Dr. Tobias Gibson Named Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Security Policy and Law at Syracuse University

Tobias Gibson Image

Please tell a little bit about how your recent sabbatical at Syracuse University came about.

This opportunity was a decade in the making. In 2012, I attended a workshop related to teaching homeland security at the Naval Postgraduate School. One of the other participants was faculty at the Syracuse College of Law — and was in the same institute I was a part of in the fall. Two years later, I attended a similar workshop, the National Security Law Institute, held at the University of Virginia Law School. Judge James E. Baker, who is now the director of the institute, was one of the guest speakers. I met him again in Washington, D.C., at the ABA’s Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law CLE Conference. Judge Baker has twice come to, and spoken at, Westminster College: once in 2019 and again in 2022 for the Hancock Symposium. Knowing that I was going to be on sabbatical, I asked him about opportunities at the Institute for Security Policy and Law, and he was excited to extend an invitation.

What was your title at Syracuse, and what did your fellowship involve?

In the fall, I was a distinguished fellow in residence. I worked closely with SPL faculty and the students working for the Institute. While at Syracuse, I successfully proposed two books, both of which are now under contract. In the fall, I was able to present seven times, including presentations at three academic conferences, and once to an audience of the Maxwell School’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). Because of one of the paper presentations, I was able to reconnect with an old friend who invited me to serve as an associate editor on the Journal for Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which I accepted.

Finally, before I left, Judge Baker and the SPL faculty honored me by naming me as a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Security Policy and Law. This is a good example of the fruits borne of consistent attendance of conference and other professional opportunities. It is important that the College continues to support its faculty and their research and teaching interests.

What are you doing this semester during your sabbatical?

I’m involved with the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri-Columbia. My son, Jakob, ’23 ΦΔΘ, is a graduate student there, also.

How will your experience during this year’s sabbatical enhance what you do at Westminster College?

This is the most important part: first, sitting in on three different classes at SU will impact the way I teach. I learned some new teaching tools and a great deal of information from these highly skilled faculty. Second, the research I did (including the books, a new conference, and renewing ties) will all elevate the stature of the College and of the political science and security studies majors, and the pre-law program. Third, I made contacts with SU Law, as well as the Maxwell School, that may benefit interested pre-law students. In 2024, Maxwell School ranks number one for public affairs (look up, which may benefit students interested political science, international relations, and other related programs.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.