Quick And Dirty Research With Google Book

books_sm.gifLet's say you're looking for an expert opinion to flesh out some research you're doing, but don't have time to track down a university professor or go to the library. Or maybe you're just one of those people who likes to have the answer to everything, and you want to prove you're right by citing an authoritative source. Sure, you can try to Google up an expert opinion on how the launch of Sputnik led to a culture of censorship in the U.S., but you're likely to get mired in a pile of search result goo. That's where Google Book can help. With its extensive catalog of academic books and journals, Google Book is the very best place to find fast, authoritative answers to your question about Sputnik, complete with a short quote and trustworthy citation. Let's try out our quick-and-dirty research method to get our answer about Sputnik-inspired censorship. I'll start broad by plugging in "Sputnik" and "culture." Sure enough, after I page through 3 short screens of results, I find a gem: a reference in international relations professor Walter L. Hixon's book Parting the Curtain, which is about cold war culture. When I click on the link, up pop several pages from his book. I discover that his research shows Senator McCarthy used the fear of a "missile gap" after the launch of Sputnik to justify purging "leftist" books like Ralph Ellison's classic The Invisible Man from over 100 libraries built and stocked by the US Information Agency as part of an effort to educate local populations. If I click through to "more about this book," Google Book even helpfully provides links to reviews of Hixon's book, many by other academics. I can check them out to be sure he's regarded as knowledgeable by his peers.

Now I'm set: I've got my expert, and I've got my data. The one problem is that Google Book makes it hard for you to select text for cutting and pasting, so you'll have to do a little transcribing if you want to quote Hixon verbatim. And if you want more sources, just narrow your search or keep sifting through your original results. Sure, you might want to go read the whole book, too, but this is quick-and-dirty research so we're adopting a "don't ask don't tell" policy on that.


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