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The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America

The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1967 the magazine Ramparts ran an exposé revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had been secretly funding and managing a wide range of citizen front groups intended to counter communist influence around the world. In addition to embarrassing prominent individuals caught up, wittingly or unwittingly, in the secret superpower struggle for hearts and minds, the revelations of 1967 were one of the worst operational disasters in the history of American intelligence and presaged a series of public scandals from which the CIA's reputation has arguably never recovered.

CIA official Frank Wisner called the operation his "mighty Wurlitzer," on which he could play any propaganda tune. In this illuminating book, Hugh Wilford provides the first comprehensive account of the clandestine relationship between the CIA and its front organizations. Using an unprecedented wealth of sources, he traces the rise and fall of America's Cold War front network from its origins in the 1940s to its Third World expansion during the 1950s and ultimate collapse in the 1960s.

Covering the intelligence officers who masterminded the CIA's fronts as well as the involved citizen groups--émigrés, labor, intellectuals, artists, students, women, Catholics, African Americans, and journalists--Wilford provides a surprising analysis of Cold War society that contains valuable lessons for our own age of global conflict.

Review:

"Well before the beginning of the Cold War, the Soviet Union achieved a series of propaganda successes by using 'front' organizations that ostensibly served independent purposes but were orchestrated by Moscow. In the late 1940s, Frank Wisner, chief of political warfare for the newly created CIA, proposed a U.S. version: a 'mighty Wurlitzer' that like its namesake would play the music America desired. California State — Long Beach professor Wilford describes the 'Wurlitzer' as most successful in supporting Western Europe's noncommunist leftist unions, students and intellectuals during the 1950s. As the Cold War spread, the CIA organized programs in the Third World combining development with anticommunism. The CIA was more a source of funding and fine-tuning than the master player its organizers intended; few of its front groups were unaware of the connection. What made the system work was a shared, principled and intense anticommunism combined with trust in America's intentions and capabilities. As these eroded during the Vietnam era, the Wurlitzer's music grew discordant, then ceased altogether. Wilford's conclusion that winning hearts and minds is best left to overt processes and organizations is predictable and defensible. Still, Wisner's Wurlitzer helped level the playing field at a crucial period of the Cold War." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"What do Richard Wright, Gloria Steinem, Henry Kissinger, George Meany, Nina Simone and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. have in common?

Answer: Directly or indirectly, they all took money from the Central Intelligence Agency during the early years of the Cold War.

If nothing else, this little quiz illuminates a side of history overshadowed by familiar tales about the CIA's... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Hugh Wilford is Associate Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach.

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Innocents' Clubs: The Origins of the CIA Front

2. Secret Army: Émigrés

3. AFL-CIA: Labor

4. A Deep Sickness in New York: Intellectuals

5. The Cultural Cold War: Writers, Artists, Musicians, Filmmakers

6. The CIA on Campus: Students

7. The Truth Shall Make You Free: Women

8. Saving the World: Catholics

9. Into Africa: African Americans

10. Things Fall Apart: Journalists

Conclusion

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674026810
Subtitle:
How the CIA Played America
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Author:
Wilford, Hugh
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Political Freedom & Security - Intelligence
Subject:
History
Subject:
Intelligence service
Subject:
Espionage
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1945 to 2000)
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Intelligence service -- United States.
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
January 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
25 haftones
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9 x 5.6875 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory

The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 384 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674026810 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Well before the beginning of the Cold War, the Soviet Union achieved a series of propaganda successes by using 'front' organizations that ostensibly served independent purposes but were orchestrated by Moscow. In the late 1940s, Frank Wisner, chief of political warfare for the newly created CIA, proposed a U.S. version: a 'mighty Wurlitzer' that like its namesake would play the music America desired. California State — Long Beach professor Wilford describes the 'Wurlitzer' as most successful in supporting Western Europe's noncommunist leftist unions, students and intellectuals during the 1950s. As the Cold War spread, the CIA organized programs in the Third World combining development with anticommunism. The CIA was more a source of funding and fine-tuning than the master player its organizers intended; few of its front groups were unaware of the connection. What made the system work was a shared, principled and intense anticommunism combined with trust in America's intentions and capabilities. As these eroded during the Vietnam era, the Wurlitzer's music grew discordant, then ceased altogether. Wilford's conclusion that winning hearts and minds is best left to overt processes and organizations is predictable and defensible. Still, Wisner's Wurlitzer helped level the playing field at a crucial period of the Cold War." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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