Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this study on the Cold War's cultural front, Guernica cofounder Whitney examines how the CIA influenced, manipulated, and funded innumerable magazines and journals in an ongoing affair of propaganda and subversion. Starting in 1950 under the guise of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA enlisted writers, editors, and many more to not-so-subtly sway public opinion across the globe against Communism, with publications such as the Paris Review, Encounter, Der Monat, and Preuves carrying out the mission. Whitney examines how all of these magazines and literary luminaries played their roles throughout the 1950s and 1960s. "What follows is by necessity a group biography, reconstructed from the splintered histories of the time," Whitney writes, that "have been scattered around the world in books, archives, and websites." Whitney concludes that while the people involved may have meant well, in turning these magazines into a weapon, they undermined and corrupted "our practice of cultural and press freedom." The book's subject matter is fascinating and complex, but Whitney's writing is dry and unengaging; what might work for a lecture comes across as dispassionate, even dull, in print. Teasing apart the myriad lists of magazines and personalities grows tedious after a while, but for those willing to slog through, a rich tapestry of material awaits. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.