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Unreliable comrades: writers and the Cold War

Writers—both communist and anti-communist—rarely toed the party line

By DJ Taylor   March 2020

Hastening through New York sometime in the late 1950s, the Marxist critic Isaac Deutscher was approached by a news-vendor, who pressed a paperback copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four into his hands: “You must read it sir. Then you will know why we must drop the atom bomb on the bolshies!” It is not known whether Deutscher bought the book. But this odd little vignette reveals something of the way in which the international power politics of the pre-Kennedy era were being played out literally at street level, the responses stirred in ordinary people and the tools—in this case a…

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