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v2.1 Reference

Pressing the Fight

Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War

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 pro-American 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.

About the Authors

Greg Barnhisel is associate professor of English at Duquesne University and author of James Laughlin, New Directions, and the Remaking of Ezra Pound (University of Massachusetts Press, 2005).

Catherine Turner is associate director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Marketing Modernism between the Two World Wars (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003).


"Perhaps the most important work performed by this collection of first-rate essays is to demonstrate compellingly, across a wide range of cultural and academic contexts, how central printed words and images were to 'fighting' the Cold War."—Choice

"An intriguing mix of essays. . . . Although print was censored, it served, unlike film and television, as the most likely medium for dissent from samizdat to antiwar pamphlets. This investigation of official and unofficial Cold War messages reveals the range of competing narratives of national identity in an age of superpower rivalry."—Journal of American History

"The book challenges notions of 'official' Cold War communication and highlights the roles of various forms of publishing and reading in either embrace of or resistance to Cold War ideologies."—American Journalism

9781558499607 : pressing-the-fight-barnhisel-turner
Paperback / softback
312 Pages
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James Laughlin, New Directions Press, and the Remaking of Ezra Pound

Greg Barnhisel
Apr 2005 - University of Massachusetts Press
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