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Battling the Reds

Battling the Reds

(p.27) Chapter 1 Battling the Reds
Jazz Diplomacy
Lisa E. Davenport
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the pivotal Cold War events that prompted America to redirect its approach to battling the “Reds” in the mid-1950s, including the Geneva Summit, the Bandung Conference, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary, and the Communist cultural offensive in Asia. It considers the country’s appropriation of black and white cultural products, and more specifically, jazz diplomacy, to counter the Soviets’ worldwide effort to win allies sympathetic to communism, arguing that it sometimes unwittingly gave impetus to cultural internationalism and highlights significant tensions in American foreign policy. The chapter looks at how jazz music became an important instrument of American global diplomacy to destroy “myths” and stereotypes about the country that lingered abroad. It also cites one of the most significant cultural events to arise from the Geneva Summit, the tour to the Soviet Union of George Gershwin’s musical Porgy and Bess, and discusses President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s support for American cultural initiatives through his Cultural Presentations Program.

Keywords:   jazz diplomacy, Cold War, America, Geneva Summit, Bandung Conference, Soviet Union, communism, cultural internationalism, foreign policy, jazz music

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