I’m spending most of the month of January reading through FBI files on their fellow travelers in the anti-Communist movement, scouring the pages of blacklisting publications like CounterAttack for traces of the blacklist in radio and TV (of which there are a lot).
But turns out that the anti-Communist right was obsessed with media writ large and I find myself thinking more and more about all the ways in which the FBI and other anti-Communist organizations and individuals were taking popular culture seriously, to paraphrase left Cultural Studies 1980 mantra.
The first item in their “WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BEAT THE COMMUNISTS?” section from December 3, 1949, the authors of CounterAttack listed NOT buying books by Communists, fellow travelers, or anyone who had ever sympathized with anything backed by the Communist Party for Christmas as their number one strategy.
“In buying books for Christmas and in deciding what books to recommend for purchase by public libraries, college & school libraries, etc. be very careful. The following books are being plugged by Communists:
“My Glorious Brothers,” by Howard Fast, Communist novelist.
“The Naked and the Dead,” a best-selling novel by Norman Mailer.
“The Crusaders,” a best-selling novel by Stefan Heym.
“The Great Midland,” novel by Alexander Saxton.
“Hold with the Hares,” novel by Len Zinberg.
“Japan Diary,” by Mark Gayn. Attacks American policy.
“Home from the Cold Wars,” by Leslie Roberts. For appeasement.
“Russian Literature since the Revolution,” edited by Joshua Kunitz.
“People Come First,” by Jessica Smith. Communist book on Russia.”