Frances Stoner Saunders – Covert Cultural Operations (Secret CIA Campaign to Influence Culture)
“The individuals and institutions subsi-dized by the CIA were expected to perform as part of a broad campaign of persuasion, of a propaganda war in which “propaganda” was defined as “any organized effort or movement to disseminate information or a particular doctrine by means of news, special arguments or appeals designed to influence the thoughts and actions of any given group.” 5 A vital constituent of this effort was “psychological warfare,” which was defined as “[t]he planned use by a nation of propaganda and activities other than combat which communicate ideas and information intended to influence the opinions, attitudes, emotions and behavior of foreign groups in ways that will support the achievement of national aims.” Further, the “most effective kind of propaganda” was defined as the kind where “the subject moves in the direction you desire for reasons which he believes to be his own.” 6 It is useless to dispute these definitions. They are littered across government documents, the données of American postwar cultural diplomacy.” p.4-5
During the Cold War, freedom of expression was vaunted as liberal democracy’s most cherished possession—but such freedom was put in service of a hidden agenda. In The Cultural Cold War, Frances Stonor Saunders reveals the extraordinary efforts of a secret campaign in which some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom in the West were working for or subsidized by the CIA—whether they knew it or not.
Called “the most comprehensive account yet of the [CIA’s] activities between 1947 and 1967” by the New York Times, the book presents shocking evidence of the CIA’s undercover program of cultural interventions in Western Europe and at home, drawing together declassified documents and exclusive interviews to expose the CIA’s astonishing campaign to deploy the likes of Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Robert Lowell, George Orwell, and Jackson Pollock as weapons in the Cold War. Translated into ten languages, this classic work—now with a new preface by the author—is “a real contribution to popular understanding of the postwar period” (The Wall Street Journal), and its story of covert cultural efforts to win hearts and minds continues to be relevant today.