This is an engaging book that examines the use of literature as a weapon in the so-called Cold War. A knowledge of the war will enhance your enjoyment of this book.
White has embarked on an ambitious survey of writers who fought to get their books read in the Cold War. Inevitably even in a big book there are some notable omissions, for example Borges, Garcia, Wolf and Cela. Those who do figure in the book include: Orwell, Hemingway, Fast, McCarthy, Koestler, Solzhentsyn and many other authors and playwrights.
Copies of Animal Farm were dropped by balloon over Poland and Hungary. The book, Gulag Archipelago was regarded as a literary atomic bomb. Fiction proved more effective as a propaganda weapon against tyranny than non fiction.
Howard Fast, an American communist sympathiser, had his books burned and jailed. While in prison he wrote Spartacus, which became a smash film. The exploits of the CIA in Vietnam, Cuba and Iran get a mention, but not Chile. The research is very good.
The book is an excellent reminder of a period of high international tension and how novels and plays were used by the West to undermine a monstrous tyranny.