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Cultural Exchange & the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain Hardcover – April 21, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"Yale Richmond records a highly significant chapter in Soviet-American relations during the final decades of Communism. He provides us with a deftly written, accurate, and thoughtful account of the cultural exchanges that were such important channels of influence and persuasion during those years. His book covers the whole spectrum --from scholars and scientific collaboration to fairs and exhibits. We should be grateful that he has undertaken this task before memories fade."

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Some fifty thousand Soviets visited the United States under various exchange programs between 1958 and 1988. They came as scholars and students, scientists and engineers, writers and journalists, government and party officials, musicians, dancers, and athletes-and among them were more than a few KGB officers. They came, they saw, they were conquered, and the Soviet Union would never again be the same. Cultural Exchange and the Cold War describes how these exchange programs (which brought an even larger number of Americans to the Soviet Union) raised the Iron Curtain and fostered changes that prepared the way for Gorbachev's glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War.

This study is based upon interviews with Russian and American participants as well as the personal experiences of the author and others who were involved in or administered such exchanges. Cultural Exchange and the Cold War demonstrates that the best policy to pursue with countries we disagree with is not isolation but engagement.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State Press; New edition edition (April 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271023023
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271023021
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,433,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The jacket of Richmond's book states that this work "demonstrates that the best policy to pursue with countries with whom we disagree is not isolation but engagement." Whether or not this is universally true, a very strong case is made for this argument in this study of cultural exchanges during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.
The exchanges between the two countries were initiated by President Eisenhower in a letter to Bulganin, the Soviet head of state, and were begun in 1958. Whatever concerns there might have been about potential Soviet espionage, the program found approval even from FBI Director J. Edger Hoover. Richmond demonstrates the wisdom of this program as thousands of Russians and Americans participated in these exchanges which continued up to the time when the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
The book's table of contents provides early clues to the range of the program. There were exchanges of scholars in science and in the political and social sciences, exchanges of scientists and technicians for conferences and participation in working groups, exchanges of journalists and diplomats, and the well publicized exchanges of performing artists in ballet, music and theater. Students in the exchange program often remained in the host country for several years; scientists and technicians only for the several weeks of a conference or working group.
The background to the exchange rogram is provided through citations from the reports of American administrators and scholars associated with it and through personal interviews in which they describe the difficulties of implementation in the face of bureaucratic obstacles from two mutually suspicious countries.
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Format: Hardcover
Scholarly and illuminating, Richmond's book colorfully documents official, government Soviet-American cultural exchanges that began after Stalin died in 1953, and helped to break down barriers of fear and ignorance, at a time that many of us felt the Cold War was freezing all contact.
These cultural exchanges involved books, movies, writers, performing artists, scientists, technologists, think tanks, politicans, and scholars.
Richmond writes eloquently, liberally using quotes of people who took part in the exchanges. One was organized by Gerald Mikkelson, professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of Kansas, and it flourished in the 1970s and 80s. From several days to several weeks, Soviet writers came to the university, experienced the Midwest, and went away forever changed.
"Those visits to Kansas," says Mikkelson, "not only broadened their horizons culturally and ideologically, and gave them plenty of food for thought that sometimes got translated into specific literary works or images, but it added to their prestige and emboldened them at home in their efforts to make the Soviet Union a more livable place for writers and people in the other creative and performing arts."
Imagine a Soviet writer being plunked down in Kansas!
And other new places!
The same for Americans in the Soviet Union!
Some Soviet scholars were not allowed to take part, because the Soviet Foreign Travel Commission didn't think they were "reliable" to travel abroad, for whatever reasons. One of them was Soviet professor George Mirsky, a Middle East expert, who whole-heartedly encouraged his students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations to go on such exchanges.
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Format: Hardcover
Cultural Exchange highlights the intrinsic events within the educational system, that is, the exchange program between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union by the ideas that it helped to foster. It gives you a detailed, well researched account of the events that led to these programs, as well as many small entertaining tid-bits such as students in the program who were afraid to do anything because they thought the CIA was working with the KGB. All in all, a synopsis of the book is not needed here, just pick it up yourself if you have an interest in the Cold War and/or the events that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union, to see for yourself what lies within the book.

Other recommendations along with this title:
New Myth, New World, from Nietzsche and Stalinism
Toilet: The Novel (A Tribute to the Literary Works of Franz Kafka)
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