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The Life and Times of Norman Cousins: A Peacemaker in the Atomic Age

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, October 17, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0203
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Norman Cousins is probably best remembered as the long-time editor of the influential American weekly magazine Saturday Review between 1940 and 1972. But Cousins was also engaged in secret missions behind the Iron Curtain to conduct high-stakes negotiations directly with the Soviet leadership. As a peacemaker in the atomic age, Cousins helped to shape the contours of the Cold War.

Award-winning historian Allen Pietrobon discusses the extraordinary life of Cousins and shines light on some of the biggest flashpoints of the Cold War. In the shadow of the nuclear arms race, Cousins worked tirelessly—at great cost to his health and his family life—to promote successful humanitarian aid programs for the victims of war, slow the nuclear arms race, and improve relations with the Soviet Union. Then, in the prime of his career, while on a secret mission to the Soviet Union on behalf of President John F. Kennedy, Cousins was afflicted by a crippling illness that nearly killed him. Some (including Cousins himself) privately speculated that he was deliberately poisoned by the Russians in an attempt to scuttle an arms control deal.

Learn how Cousins used his megaphone at the Saturday Review to help shape American public debate during the Cold War— even changing the minds of world leaders. Using his vast network of far-reaching high-level personal and political connections, he exerted influence in the highest halls of power across the globe, wielding outsized influence for a political “outsider.”

Pietrobon takes a fascinating look at the enormous impact one individual had on the course of American public debate, international humanitarianism, and Cold War diplomacy in the decades after World War Two.

His book Norman Cousins: Peacemaker in the Atomic Age (Johns Hopkins University Press) is available for purchase.

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