George, Alice L. 1952-

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George, Alice L. 1952-


Born July 15, 1952. Education: Temple University, Ph.D., 2001.


E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist and historian. Detroit Free Press, Detroit, MI, assistant to the managing editors; Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, PA, deputy managing editor.


Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.

Old City Philadelphia: Cradle of American Democracy, Arcadia (Charleston, SC), 2003.

(Researcher and historian) Shelley Kapnek Rosenberg, Challenge and Change: History of the Jews in America: Early Settlement through Central European Migration (middle-grade textbook; "Challenge and Change" series), Behrman House (Springfield, NJ), 2004.

Philadelphia: A Pictorial Celebration, photographs by Elan Penn, Sterling Publishing (New York, NY), 2006.


Alice L. George was a journalist for twenty years before earning a Ph.D. in history from Temple University. She worked for newspapers that included the Detroit Free Press and the Philadelphia Daily News. As a historian, George's interests have included the history of Philadelphia, which is reflected in two books about that city.

Her first book, however, is a story of the Cold War, specifically thirteen days in October, 1962, when Americans waited and watched as the United States worked through a standoff with Cuba. Nuclear missiles had been placed in the island nation by Nikita Khrushchev at a time when the United States was unprepared for war. George draws primarily on materials from the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson presidential libraries, National Archives, and the Library of Congress in writing Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis.

George provides context for this moment in history by noting that the Eisenhower administration and the congress of the 1950s had paid little attention to civil defense. Following the Berlin crisis of 1961, President John F. Kennedy's administration increased civil defense spending, but these programs were short lived. By the time of the Cuban Missile crisis only sixty million people could be sheltered from radiation. Historian contributor Margot A. Henriksen commented that George offers "some tantalizing tidbits regarding the ordinary Americans' reactions to these tense times, from panic buying and food hoarding in select cities to the ten million Americans who fled their homes by taking spontaneous ‘vacations’." While some felt that it would be futile to prepare, others cleared store shelves of food, bottled water, guns and ammunition, and transistor radios. Although the general public was at risk, the president and his cabinet, as well as the Supreme Court justices, would be safe nearly fifty miles from Washington in an underground shelter that included sleeping quarters, dining and recreation areas, offices, and a hospital.

"George also scrutinizes the Kennedy administration's handling of the media," wrote Jonathan Colman for the H-Net Web site. "The administration strove to bal- ance freedom of the press with the need to safeguard national security. While officials sometimes used excessive power to curb press freedom, journalists' own preoccupation with national security led many of them to fall in, all too readily, with the official line, thereby serving as a mere ‘conduit for Cold War dogma’ and as ‘proliferators of selectively disclosed information.’"

Writing in Library Journal, Karl Helicher commented that the volume "is especially notable for its portrayal of how children were traumatized." The "protective" measures that were taken, including air- raid drills, were designed to make children feel safe, but as George notes, they "had little more credibility than the Easter Bunny." George suspects that the impact of this period led to the activism of many of these children as they grew to young adulthood during the peace movement of the 1960s.

Old City Philadelphia: Cradle of American Democracy is George's tribute to the City of Brotherly Love, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the oldest residential street in the nation (Elfreth's Alley) is located. George writes specifically about the Old City neighborhood and the way it recreated itself, restoring its glory and tradition in the face of the pressures of change. Philadelphia: A Pictorial Celebration, with photographs by Elan Penn, similarly celebrates Philadelphia with images of famous battle sites, nineteenth-century landmarks, parks and shipyards, museums, institutions of learning, and other treasures.

George is the researcher and historian for the third book in a series written by Shelley Kapnek Rosenberg. Titled Challenge and Change: History of the Jews in America: Early Settlement through Central European Migration, it follows the first two books, Challenge and Change: History of the Jews in America Early Settlement (1492) through Central European Migration (1880) and Challenge and Change: History of the Jews in American Civil War (1860) through the Rise of Zionism (1948). The series is written for students in grades six through nine. This final volume studies the contemporary American Jewish community beginning in 1914, with subjects including Jews in politics, spirituality, and the revolving role of Jewish women in religious life.



American Historical Review, February, 2005, Kenneth D. Rose, review of Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis, p. 179.

Choice, May, 2004, L.M. Lees, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 1723.

Historian, spring, 2006, Margot A. Henriksen, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 140.

History Today, November, 2003, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 81.

International History Review, December, 2005, G.F. Goodwin, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 899.

Journal of American History, September, 2004, Stephen J. Whitfield, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 697.

Library Journal, August, 2003, Karl Helicher, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 100.

Technology and Culture, July, 2004, Megan Barnhart, review of Awaiting Armageddon, p. 635.


Alice L. George Home Page, (March 26, 2008).

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (March 26, 2008), Jonathan Colman, review of Awaiting Armageddon.

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