Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement Narrative  
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Linus Pauling’s scientific reputation reached its peak in the early 1950s. His theories on chemical bonds and molecular structure were widely applauded. His many scientific articles were read with close attention. His textbooks were among the most successful in the marketplace. Years of innovative research on protein structure had yielded, in 1951, a string of unprecedented breakthroughs outlining the molecular architecture of many basic structures. He was widely considered America’s -- perhaps the world’s -- leading chemist.

Then suddenly, and seemingly inexplicably, Pauling turned away from science. He began to focus his considerable talents instead on political activism. His brand of politics -- a mix of socialism, pacifism, liberalism, human rights promotion, and support for world government -- was decidly out of step with mainstream sentiment in America during what became known as the McCarthy Era, a time of anti-Communism, loyalty oaths, and public fear leveraged by politicians.

The more Pauling was attacked for his unpopular views, however, the more stubborn and outspoken he became. Despite enormous pressure from the government, newspapers, and the school for which he worked, he refused to back down. His was a brand of courage rarely seen today. This website tells the story of that political activism, why Pauling threw himself into waters unfamiliar to (and avoided by) most scientists, and what he accomplished.

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Video Clip  Video: Taking Action in the Fight for Peace. 1960. (1:17) Transcript and More Information

See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Otto Bastiansen. October 4, 1960. 

Click images to enlarge 

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Annotated peace placard. June 9, 1957.

Linus and Ava Helen Pauling demonstrating in the streets for peace. San Francisco, California. 1960s.

"Science is the search for truth -- it is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent, to do harm to others. We need to have the spirit of science in international affairs, to make the conduct of international affairs the effort to find the right solution, the just solution of international problems, not the effort by each nation to get the better of the other nations, to do them harm when it is possible."

Linus Pauling
February 1958
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