Cold Warriors: Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War

Custom House. Aug. 2019. 792p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062449818. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062449825. HIST
During the Cold War both the United States and the Soviet Union believed that literature had a meaningful influence on its readers, making it an ideal tool for propaganda. As such, controlling literary output became a priority for both countries and a means to amplify support and silence dissent. White (Assistant Director of Studies in History & Literature, Harvard Univ.; Vladimir Nabokov) chronicles the resources and methods used by both nations and the effects they had on writers and the books they wrote. From the Spanish Civil War to the war in Vietnam, White covers several decades and focuses on more than a dozen authors. As is the risk with any book trying to cover so much, Cold Warriors as a whole is uneven. It is at its strongest when charting the shifting communist sympathies of George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Mary McCarthy, and others, but what connects all the authors mentioned is primarily that they were writing during the Cold War. Alone that is not enough to satisfyingly carry the narrative.
VERDICT At times riveting and insightful, this book will appeal to readers of Cold War history and readers of espionage thrillers. However, because of its expansive scope, it is difficult to recommend to general readers.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month