War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War

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Syracuse University Press, 1997 - History - 277 pages
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International diplomacy and a changing global economy did not bring about the fall of the Iron Curtain. Radio did, and it was mightier than the sword. Based on first-hand interviews and documents from the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, Michael Nelson shows that Western radio -- principally, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the Voice of America -- were unrivaled forces in the fight against communism and the fall of the Iron Curtain. It was a propaganda war in which the Communists had few radio listeners in the West. They did everything in their power to prevent the infiltration of Western thought into their world, resorting to jamming radio signals, assassinating staff, and bombing stations. The Russians decided to stop the mass production of short-wave radios so that their citizens could not hear Western broadcasts. War of the Black Heavens reveals that, due to administrative incompetence, short-wave radio production continued, making worthless many of the billions of dollars spent on jamming. These radio programs introduced a forbidden, exciting culture to millions of eager listeners. Pop music, talk shows, news, and information about consumer goods all relayed a message of the good life, subtly undermining the values of the communist regimes. Western radio presented the concept of a civil society that upheld basic human values; it actively connected listeners with the cultures of Europe and North America War of the Black Heavens describes an unheralded story of success and adds a new interpretation that helps us understand some of the most momentous political events of this century.
 

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Contents

PROLOGUE
1
THE START OF THE COLD WAR 19451947
10
THE BEGINNING OF THE AGE OF JAMMING
20
STARTING RFE AND RL 19501953
46
UPRISINGS 19531956
67
THE BEGINNINGS OF DETENTE 19561963
91
OTHER MAJOR BROADCASTERS
107
CLEARER AIRWAVES 19631968
116
CZECHOSLOVAK INVASION AND AFTER 19681979
137
solidarity 19791989
157
REVOLUTIONS 1989
181
GORBACHEV LISTENS TO THE VOICES
193
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