GREAT BRITAIN Defender of the Faith
The first Man of 1952 was a Danish-born sea captain named Henrik Kurt Carlsen. As the New Year rolled in and all the world watched, he fought alone for the life of his ship Flying Enterprise against the fury of January seas in the North Atlantic. For twelve days he fought, but in the end the Flying Enterprise went down. Captain Carlsen rejected the inevitable Hollywood contract and modestly disappeared, and the world was left still searching for a hero.
In 1952 the world badly wanted a hero as dramatically poised as the captain to rescue it from an engulfing ocean of doubt.
There were heroes aplenty on the bloody battlefields of 1952, but their heroism served only to give a sharper sting to the frustration that already lay on the world.
For 1952 was a year in which the world was officially at peace, but still waged bloody wars it hopefully called "small" and half-heartedly armed against the danger of one it would have to call "big." It was a year of frustration in which the peace talks begun so hopefully in a tent at Panmunjom were moved to a permanent buildingmade to last, if necessary, for years.
A-Bombs & a Blonde. The U.S., carrying the main burden of the war in Korea, was still in 1952 the richest and strongest nation on earth, richer and stronger than it had ever been, but even its great strength was not enough. The U.S., like the rest of the world, was tired of the incubus of permanent crisis, tired of high taxes, tired of a war that was never done and never won, tired of the peace dove that was only a clanking phony made in Moscow. For all its might & main, the U.S. could find no quick way out.
At home, the U.S. flexed its great muscles, put everyone to work, paid them more money, built them more and better houses, more and fancier cars (see BUSINESS IN 1952). Its enterprising suburb builders raised up almost overnight a new Levittown beside the Delaware River, bigger at birth than the pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania cities of York and Lancaster. Its patient medical researchers found drugs that gave promise of conquering TB and polio. Its impatient newspaper readers doused themselves inside & out with another wonder drug, chlorophyll, and followed the Wars of the RosesEleanor and Billy.
The U.S. cheered the Yankees as they won the World Series, and Decathloneer Bob Mathias as he shattered his own world record in the Olympics. It turned a bored ear to science's biggest bangthe explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacificand sighed in disillusion when Frank Hayosteck, the note-in-a-bottle Romeo of Johnstown, Pa., journeyed all the way to Ireland to find his Breda O'Sullivan and then came home againalone. In 1952, the U.S. rediscovered sports cars and discovered Marilyn Monroe.
The Man of the Hour. But one event alone occupied the major attention of the U.S. in 1952. When General Eisenhower, an authentic hero both at home and abroad, resigned his job as head of NATO's armies to enter the U.S. political arena, many innocent Europeans (as well as many informed Americans) took it for granted that he had been appointed 1952's Man of Destiny, almost by acclamation.