Walter L. Hixson. Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945–1961. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997.
Despite its slim appearance, Parting the Curtain is a detailed and informative read. Its concise format makes it a good starting point for readers new to the topic of Cold War culture and the book provides a helpful overview of the central themes and stories.
Hixson focuses upon the efforts of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to deploy art and culture as propaganda to wage psychological warfare against the USSR. From the end of World War II to the establishment of the Soviet-American cultural exchange treaty at the end of the ’50s, Parting the Curtain chronicles the role of governmental and media agencies in this campaign of cultural infiltration. While reference to the visual arts is limited, the assessment of the stakeholders that controlled official artistic displays in the early Cold War provides a clear basis to support further reading on the subject.
Image: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and US Vice President Richard Nixon visit the American National Exhibition in Moscow on 24 July 1959, the setting for their infamous ‘Kitchen Debate’.