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Pressing the Fight

Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War

Greg Barnhisel
Catherine Turner
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Pressing the Fight
    Book Description:

    Although often framed as an economic, military, and diplomatic confrontation, the Cold War was above all a conflict of ideas. In official pronouncements and publications as well as via radio broadcasts, television, and film, the United States and the Soviet Union both sought to extend their global reach as much through the power of persuasion as by the use of force. Yet of all the means each side employed to press its ideological case, none proved more reliable or successful than print. In this volume, scholars from a variety of disciplines explore the myriad ways print was used in the Cold War. Looking at materials ranging from textbooks and cookbooks to art catalogs, newspaper comics, and travel guides, they analyze not only the content of printed matter but also the material circumstances of its production, the people and institutions that disseminated it, and the audiences that consumed it. Among the topics discussed are the infiltration of book publishing by propagandists East and West; the distribution of proAmerican printed matter in postwar Japan through libraries, schools, and consulates; and the collaboration of foundations, academia, and the government in the promotion of high culture as evidence of the superiority of Western values. At the same time, many of the qualities that made print the preferred medium of official propaganda also made it an effective instrument for challenging Cold War orthodoxies at home and abroad. Because printed materials were relatively easy to transport, to copy, and to share, they could just as well be used to bridge differences among people and cultures as to exploit them. They also provided a vehicle for disseminating satire and other expressions of dissent. In addition to the volume editors, contributors include Ed Brunner, Russell Cobb, Laura Jane Gifford, Patricia Hills, Christian Kanig, Scott Laderman, Amanda Laugesen, Martin Manning, Kristin Matthews, Hiromi Ochi, Amy Reddinger, and James Smith. Together their essays move beyond traditional Cold War narratives to gauge the role of a crucial cultural medium in the ideological battle between the superpowers and their surrogates.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-056-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    The essays in this volume represent just a small sampling of the work that scholars of the Cold War have been producing over the last ten years. With the end of the Soviet Union and the opening of that nation’s archives to historians, a small explosion of scholarship has been in progress for the last decade (epitomized, perhaps, by the evidence emerging from the KGB archive that the Rosenbergs were more guilty than their most stalwart defenders ever allowed). The now-available archives of the former Soviet bloc, the declassification of U.S. documents, and the “Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel” initiative...

  4. Part I. Printing from Left to Right

    • 1 The Medium, the Message, the Movement: Print Culture and New Left Politics
      (pp. 31-49)

      Many scholars of post–World War II American culture have recognized speech’s function in energizing the New Left , yet none have examined reading’s essential role in the evolution of New Left politics. This oversight has produced a significant blind spot when it comes to understanding the motivation, medium, and message for student radicals of the 1960s. Limiting radical politics to the spoken word has indirectly located power in the hands of the recognizably vocal few and thereby has constructed a hierarchical structure of political participation with spokesmen at the top—a structure akin to those the New Left was...

    • 2 The Education of a Cold War Conservative: Anti-Communist Literature of the 1950s and 1960s
      (pp. 50-68)

      Conservative cold Warriors of the 1950s and 1960s used books, and especially paperback books, as a primary means of mobilizing support for conservative anti-Communist causes. Conservative scholars such as James Burnham, Friedrich Hayek, and Russell Kirk saw their volumes become bestsellers. Government activists and public intellectuals including J. Edgar Hoover and William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote widely read anti-Communist polemics. Former Communists like Whittaker Chambers published memoirs of their days on the dark side. By the 1960s, with conservatives ascending to a dominant position in the Republican Party, programmatic statements such as Barry Goldwater’sConscience of a Conservative(1960) shared...

  5. Part II. Establishing a Beachhead

    • 3 Literature and Reeducation in Occupied Germany, 1945–1949
      (pp. 71-88)

      In 1948, the Soviet Union’s most respected writers—including Stalin Prize laureates—wrote an open letter to the Soviet government to complain about the quality of the publications in which their works appeared. These books were printed on poor paper, they argued, and the binding was inferior. Although the writers received some promises of improvement, the open letter went largely unnoticed. At the same time, a former schoolteacher then serving as a Soviet officer at a Red Army publishing house in Germany sent a letter to the Soviet government. His letter quickly found its way to Stalin, who took time...

    • 4 Democratic Bookshelf: American Libraries in Occupied Japan
      (pp. 89-111)

      At the end of World War II the American victors subjected Japan, along with other defeated nations, to a program of reeducation and reorientation. Hoping to demilitarize and democratize this country and its people, American authorities carefully selected cultural items, such as books, textbooks, periodicals, motion pictures, and radio programs, to be used to convey democratic ideas. Recent archive-based scholarship has clarified just how this cultural reeducation program worked. Reinhold Wagnleitner’s study of postwar Austria is a case in point, while Kenji Tanigawa’s work, for example, documents how motion pictures promoted Japanese democratization. In a series of works, Madoko Kon...

    • 5 The British Information Research Department and Cold War Propaganda Publishing
      (pp. 112-125)

      That covert elements of Western governments were intimately involved in the publishing culture of the Cold War has long been established, with the most famous incident being the revelation, in 1967, of the CIA’s involvement in the Congress for Cultural Freedom and funding of the Congress’s cultural journalEncounter. Over the past decade the activities of the British government in the field of Cold War propaganda have come under increasing scholarly scrutiny, with the release of files from the Information Research Department (IRD) of the British Foreign Office to the British National Archives allowing a detailed picture of the agency...

    • 6 Books for the World: American Book Programs in the Developing World, 1948–1968
      (pp. 126-144)

      Scholars have paid much attention to the cultural Cold War in Europe,¹ but less to its battles in other parts of the world. As writers such as Odd Arne Westad have demonstrated, the developing and non-aligned regions of the world played a vital, if not central, part in the cultural politics of the Cold War.² However, material and political differences between Europe and the developing nations resulted in culture—especially books—being used differently in those regions. Many emerging nations undergoing the process of decolonization and nation-building faced significant problems in terms of political stability, economic underdevelopment, and exploitation, and...

    • 7 Impact of Propaganda Materials in Free World Countries
      (pp. 145-166)

      This essay describes the propaganda collection amassed by the United States Information Agency (USIA) during the Cold War. Originating in World War II, the collection had as its first focus anti-American propaganda created by the Axis countries. After World War II, the U.S. Department of State established a propaganda collection in its information division to keep track of the ever-changing Cold War propaganda appeals of the Soviet Union and other Communist nations. The statutes originally intended to protect Americans from Nazi propaganda were retooled to empower the State Department to control and confiscate materials created by Communist countries for distribution...

  6. Part III. Print as a Tool to Shape Domestic Attitudes

    • 8 “How Can I Tell My Grandchildren What I Did in the Cold War?”: Militarizing the Funny Pages and Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon
      (pp. 169-192)

      No other comic strip artist could match the prestige of Milton Caniff at the end of World War II. Ron Goulart’s pronouncement that “quite possibly, Caniff was the most popular comic strip artist in America in 1947”¹ seems indisputable. Identified with a victorious war, his nationally syndicatedTerry and the Piratesstrip had charted a boy’s coming of age as a fighter pilot under circumstances that captured the meaningless brutality and desperate emotions of war time. And from 1943 to 1946, he had voluntarily furnished to armed forces weeklies a humor strip,Male Call, that used the conventions of pin-up...

    • 9 Pineapple Glaze and Backyard Luaus: Cold War Cookbooks and the Fiftieth State
      (pp. 193-208)

      In 1967, an upstate New York housewife, Elizabeth Ahn Toupin, authoredThe Hawaii Cookbook and Backyard Luau, which was published that year by the tiny Silvermine Press in Norwalk, Connecticut. By the time Toupin’s book appeared on shelves, cookbooks fully or partially dedicated to the study of Hawai’i were a regular part of a booming Cold War cookbook market, and the sales history of Toupin’s own book attests to the Hawai’i fad.¹ Silvermine sold the rights to the book to Doubleday’s imprint Bantam Books (which ordered an initial print run of 50,000) and Doubleday’s Cookbook of the Month series, which...

    • 10 Mediating Revolution: Travel Literature and the Vietnam War
      (pp. 209-228)

      For harvey s. olson, the Republic of Vietnam’s political predicament was simple. The author of one of several popular guidebooks to Asia whose appearance coincided with a post–World War II tourism boom, Olson saw in Vietnam none of the imperialist ambitions from Washington that had earlier characterized French policy in Indochina. The Viet Minh, he informed his readers in 1962, was in no way a genuine nationalist movement; its undeniable popularity, he explained, was the result of a Communist “ruse.” The organization “perpetrated a cruel hoax on the Vietnamese people when, under the guise of fighting for freedom and...

  7. Part IV. The Cultural Cold War in the United States and Abroad

    • 11 Promoting Literature in the Most Dangerous Area in the World: The Cold War, the Boom, and Mundo Nuevo
      (pp. 231-250)

      In 1967, the Paris-based literary magazineMundo Nuevoand its Cuban rival,Casa de las Américas, both published homages to the towering figure ofmodernismo, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío. In the century since Darío’s birth, Latin American literature had come to maturity. Where Latin American writers once imitated Europe an trends, they were now at the center of the international avant-garde and experiencing international commercial success for the first time. On this, Darío’s centenary, the so-called Boom in Latin American fiction was at its peak: the Guatemalan writer Miguel Angel Asturias won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Gabriel...

    • 12 “Truth, Freedom, Perfection”: Alfred Barr’s What Is Modern Painting? as Cold War Rhetoric
      (pp. 251-276)

      Of all the writings on contemporary art in the early Cold War period,What Is Modern Painting?, a forty-eight-page booklet by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., serves as the best gauge for the intensification of the ideological discourse taking place in the art world at that time. Changes in the text and presentation of the text in four editions of the booklet—editions published in 1943, 1952, 1956, and 1966—demonstrate two simultaneous shifts in Barr’s thinking: his ever-greater endorsement of abstraction as the style most reflective of free democracies, and his increasingly anti-Soviet stance. Barr’s rhetoric evidences these changes, as...

  8. About the Contributors
    (pp. 277-280)
  9. Index
    (pp. 281-285)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 286-287)