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date: 31 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay departs from Frank Ninkovich’s classic narrative of the evolution of American propaganda from a “culturalist” to an “informationalist” mode. Drawing on the example of post-World War Two book programs like the Council on Books in Wartime’s Transatlantic Editions, the USIA’s Overseas Libraries and Books in Translations programs, and the independent Franklin Books, it argues that Ninkovich’s binary schema overdetermines the ways cross-cultural exchanges have been interpreted. In fact the relationships between book programs and their government sponsors were complex and often conflicted; book program participants frequently were motivated by earnest desires for mutual understanding rather than by ideological or strategic aims. Appreciation for such nuances is necessary for accurate understanding of both the possibilities and the limits of cross-cultural exchange and communication.

Keywords: books, Council on Books in Wartime, culturalism, Franklin Book Programs, informationalism, libraries, Ninkovich, Frank, overseas libraries, translation, United States Information Agency (USIA)

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