Share this

Hot Books in the Cold War: The CIA-Funded Secret Western Book Distribution Program Behind the Iron Curtain, Alfred A. Reisch

Reviewed by A. Ross Johnson



Radio Free Europe, broadcasting to five East European countries, became a household word in the United States during the Cold War. It was the major activity of the Free Europe Committee (FEC), a public‐private partnership between the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and influential private citizens. Complementing radio broadcasts, the FEC also targeted East­ern Europe with a printed word program. In its first phase, leaflets and mininewspapers were dispatched with fanfare by balloon. In its second phase, Western books and East European underground literature published in the West were sent without publicity to Eastern Europe by postal mail and by travelers.

Former FEC official John P.C. Matthews was the first author to publicize the “book program” in his 2003 article, “The West’s Secret Marshall Plan for the Mind.” Alfred Reisch oversaw the Hungarian project until 1974. His book (completed just before his death in 2013) provides an encyclopedic, scholarly account of the origins, operations, and impact of the program. Conceived by FEC official Samuel S. Walker as an instrument to encourage “transformation of the communist system by an evolutionary process” (p. 16), the “book pro­gram” was developed and managed almost single‐ha

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

North Korea and the West

The Debate over North Korea


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS