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Cold War ModernistsArt, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy$
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Greg Barnhisel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162302

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162302.001.0001

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Cold Warriors of the Book

Cold Warriors of the Book

American Book Programs in the 1950s

(p.93) 3 Cold Warriors of the Book
Cold War Modernists

Greg Barnhisel

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the State Department's programs to distribute books among foreign audiences (particularly in central and eastern Europe)—books which were carefully chosen to convey American values or to further policy priorities. Unlike the art program, the book programs remained quite conservative in their artistic tastes and included very little modernism, framing what modernist titles they did feature as representative not only of freedom and individualism, but of America's regional diversity. Following the influential arguments of Arthur Schlesinger and others, the book programs presented modernism as being congenial to or even constitutive of Cold War liberalism. The chapter concludes by recounting William Faulkner's participation in the cultural-diplomacy program as well as the equivocal and cautious way the book programs included and presented his difficult works.

Keywords:   modernism, book programs, American values, American culture, Cold War liberalism, William Faulkner, freedom, individualism, regional diversity

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