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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 406

In revealing how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other government institutions used culture to support US national policy goals, Frances Stonor Saunders delves into a large number of specific programs that operated from the 1940s–1970s.

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In the early years of the Cold War, as leftists found themselves intellectually and morally disconnected from the hardline Stalinist policies, conservative forces rallied to counteract what they saw as the undermining of American values. While some of this activity was played out in the congressional hearings of McCarthyism, more nuanced strategies were also developed. Some of the most ardent supporters were former communists, propelled by their disillusion to challenge the Kremlin’s influence.

One of the key figures she profiles is Sidney Hook, a pragmatist philosopher at New York University, who founded the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. Among his activities was the suppression of European publication of American novels, as those of John Steinbeck, that his group deemed left-wing.

[Hook] was advocating the purging of those expressions of American life which he judged to be in conflict with the government’s “democratic policy” abroad. This was a monumental distortion of the very principles of freedom of expression, irreconcilable with the claims of liberal democracy . . .

Among the overseas CIA-sponsored publications she highlights is England’s Encounter journal, for which the CIA financing was hidden through a series of clandestine transactions, including private donations.

Thus camouflaged, British intelligence passed funds to Encounter from its inception [in 1953].

Saunders finds it disturbing that many of the writers who published...

(The entire section contains 406 words.)

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