As part of its plan to achieve a worldwide communist revolution, the USSR employed a German communist and publisher to recruit Western intellectuals - among them Gide, Hemingway, Malraux, Dos Passos, Brecht, Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman. Koch examines the role played by these writers in the covert and propaganda operations carried out by the USSR between the 1930s and the 1960s. He shows how many idealistic sympathizers, motivated by anti-fascist feelings, became embroiled in a web of terror and deceit and found themselves party to the most debased of Soviet actions, such as the collaboration between Hitler and Stalin in the elimination of their political enemies (a secret clause of the Nazi-Soviet pact).
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‘An extremely clever book, entertaining, despite its often hideous subject matter, on the Soviet ‘apparatus’ and its dirty work in the west. Stephen Koch's huge cast of remarkable characters is headed by Willi Münzenberg, German comrade of Lenin from pre-Revolutionary days, found hanged in a remote forest after the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. Münzenberg's skill was organisational. He was a Bolshevik Hearst or Murdoch. Newspapers, magazines, books, plays, films appeared in the west at his instigation… the fellow-travelling innocents who joined the front organisations he controlled included some of the major names in 20th-century culture – Mann and Gide, Hemingway and Eluard. Bad-tempered Sinclair Lewis and wise-cracking Dorothy Parker. His lieutenant Otto Katz was the friend of Kafka and Marlene Dietrich, Brecht and Fritz Lang, and mobilised Hollywood for Stalin.’
ANGUS CALDER, 'Scotland on Sunday '
‘An excellent history of soviet propaganda in the west under Stalin… Koch, to his credit, has not taken a single rumour for granted. This is an excellent example of both scholarship and detective work, sourced from newly-opened archives in Germany and Russia’
ANNE McELVOY, ' The Times'
‘Riveting – As a classic example of conspiracy theory, Stephen Koch's account of Willi Münzenberg and the Soviet propaganda machine of the 1920s and 30s is hard to beat.’
AC GRAYLING, 'Financial Times'
‘This story is a compelling one … It is unlikely that a more compelling account of the subject will be written than this, and Koch writes well, and with gusto.’
PHILIP MARSDEN, 'Spectator'
Stephen Koch is chairman of the Writing Division of the School of Arts at Columbia University, New York. He lives in Manhattan.
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Book Description Harper Collins, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002555166