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Cold Warriors

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781408707999

Price: £25

ON SALE: 29th August 2019

Genre: Humanities / History

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‘White handles hefty quantities of research effortlessly, combining multiple biographies with a broader overview of the period. His energetic, anecdote-laden prose will have you hooked all the way from Orwell to le Carré’ Sunday Times, Books of the Year

Cold Warriors reads like a thriller . . . ambitious, intelligent, searching history’ The Times

In this age of 24-hour news coverage, where rallying cries are made on Twitter and wars are waged in cyberspace as much as on the ground, the idea of a novel as a weapon that can wield any power feels almost preposterous.

The Cold War was a time when destruction was merely the press of a button away, but when the real battle between East and West was over the minds and hearts of their people. In this arena the pen really was mightier than the sword.

This is a gripping, richly-populated history of spies and journalists, protest and propaganda, idealism and betrayal. And it is the story of how literature changed the course of the Cold War just as much as how Cold War would change the course of literature. Using hitherto classified security files and new archival research White explores the ways in which authors were harnessed by both East and West to impose maximum damage on the opposition; how writers played a pivotal role (sometimes consciously, often not) in the conflict; and how literature became something that was worth fighting and dying for.

With a cast that includes George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Graham Greene, Boris Pasternak, Andrei Sinyavsky, Mary McCarthy and John le Carré, and taking the reader from Spain to America to England and to Russia, this is narrative history at its most enthralling and most pertinent – pertinent because even if on the face of it there is a huge difference between 140 characters and 100,000 words, at the heart of both is the power of stories to change the fate of nations.

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Both profound and profoundly important and as engaging as a gripping Cold War thriller
A breezily readable group biography . . . raises some haunting questions
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Absorbing . . . Cold Warriors reads like a thriller . . . However, this is also a book about personal and political liberty; about the freedom to write, mock and dissent; about truth, lies and wilful ignorance . . . [an] ambitious, intelligent, searching history
Laura Freeman, The Times
Duncan White's fascinating new book on the role of literature in the Cold War . . . It frequently grips like a thriller, even in the sections in which White is dealing with intellectual ideas rather than blackmail and violence
Jake Kerridge, Sunday Telegraph
[A] compulsive read . . . properly cinematic, full of clandestine cross-border flights, double-crossings, arrests, internments and interrogations . . . history has rarely seemed as compelling, and as pertinent, as through the lens of White's journey through this icy age
Peter Murphy, Irish Times
Consistently absorbing
Wall Street Journal
[White's] research is impressive, presented in crisp, efficient prose with an eye for the encapsulating detail . . . Cold Warriors fascinates
White guides us expertly through the tangled terrain of the literary Cold War
Literary Review
Cold Warriors is itself written in the style of a spy thriller, echoing and invoking the countless page-turners the clash of ideologies inspired . . . the assembling and stitching together of so many competing narratives is so skilfully done . . . an important book
Times Literary Supplement
Cold Warriors is a formidable, engrossing and almost flawless achievement
Sydney Morning Herald
White handles hefty quantities of research effortlessly, combining multiple biographies with a broader overview of the period. His energetic, anecdote-laden prose will have you hooked all the way from Orwell to le Carré
Sunday Times
White has a sharp eye for the telling anecdote - for the absurd as well as the fearful
John Mullan, Guardian
Deft and wide-ranging