Posts tagged cold war

Paul Robeson: A Watched Man by Jordan Goodman

If you’ve ever wondered just how far government agencies will go to keep us safe from ideas that they find dangerous, this account of the US government’s sustained attack on the singer Paul Robeson will make fascinating reading. Robeson never participated in or advocated violence or crime, and yet he was placed under continuous surveillance for years, called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, had his passport confiscated and subjected to arbitrary restrictions that almost killed both his career and his health. The official State Department justification for depriving Robeson… Read More

“The Porcupine” by Julian Barnes

What I liked about this book was the complexity of its characters. It tells the story of a former Communist dictator being put on trial by the new democratic government. In another author’s hands, it could have been unbearable. The Cold War is often viewed in simplistic terms: we won, they lost, democracy=good, communism=evil. It would have been easy to make the characters into cardboard cutouts, the dictator into some kind of James Bond villain. The reality, of course, is that nobody thinks of himself as evil. We might think… Read More