L'Art et la Vie en Amérique Traduit de l'anglais par Anne Marcel
by Larkin, Oliver W.
Paris: Librairie Plon, Edition d'Histoire et d'Art. Very Good+ in Very Good- dust jacket. 1952. First Edition Thus. Softcover. 486 pages; Clean and secure in original publisher's pictorial wrappers with folded-over flaps in the French manner, plain glassine overlay, as issued. This is an excellent copy of the first French language edition of a standard monograph of American Art -- Oliver W. Larkin's 'Art and Life in America.' The most interesting thing about this is the typed letter laid in, on "United State Information Service / Paris" stationery. This is a "MEMORANDUM" Addressed to "All American Officers" [i.e., the American Foreign Service Officers posted to the U.S. Paris Embassy]. From Gwen Barrows [USIS/Paris Book and Publications Unit]. This letter, addressed familiarly to "Dear Steve" [who we have not yet identified] -- reads: "You might like to have for presentation this copy of our latest publication under the translation program, "L'Art et la vie en Amérique" by Oliver W. Larkin. This, as you know, is the first book of its kind to be published in French, and we expect a warm response to it. If you should like additional copies for special presentation, please send us your requests. [signed, in blue ink] Gwen." This interesting memo was dated "October 24, 1952" (twelve days after the official publication date of this edition). It also happened to be eleven days before Dwight Eisenhower won the U.S. Presidential election on November 4, 1952. This election had consequences for the United States Information Service, which was soon transformed into the United States Information Agency, with an even larger budget. The newly-enlarged agency was tasked with a mission "to understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions, and their counterparts abroad." From the beginning, the new American President was frank about propaganda, and the secrecy which his administration made its mission more effective -- audiences would be more receptive to the American message if they were kept from identifying it as propaganda. Avowedly propagandistic materials from the United States might convince few, but the same viewpoints presented by the seemingly independent voices would be more persuasive. Also in the new atmosphere of Eisenhower's Republication administration, forces on the political right became concerned that tinges of leftist thought in the American government, and sought to root out these left-leaning Americans and eliminate them from positions of authority, particularly in the State Department and the new United States Information Agency. One result of this effort was soon felt in Paris, with the arrival of two young Americans, Roy Cohn and David Schine. Cohn, at that time was Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel; G. David Schine was attached by his friend Roy Cohn to McCarthy's staff as an unpaid "chief consultant." These two young men (both in their mid-twenties at the time) arrived in Paris for the official task of examining libraries of the United States Information Agency for books written by authors they deemed to be Communists or fellow travelers. The very first thing they found objectionable upon arrival in Paris was that the pair of expensive suites which the U.S. Embassy had reserved for them at the Hotel Crillon, were not adjoining. Cohn and Schine immediately withdrew to the Georges V, where they proceeded to run up a staggering bill on the Embassy's account. The results of their search for subversive elements in the USIA libraries and staff were inconclusive. I cannot imagine that the distinguished professor Oliver W. Larkin was thought by anyone, even this pair of idealogues, as a danger to American ideals and values. The original English version of Larkin's book won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for History, the first such award for a study of the visual arts. I can find no other evidence, apart from the extraordinary typed memo inserted in this copy, that the United States Goverment provided the impetus and funding for the French edition of this honored classic study. Some of the two billion dollars spent every year by the USIA was probably expended in the aid of less worthy causes. As for Roy Cohn and G. David Schine -- their infamous European junket, and Schine's subsequent induction into the US Army (fought every step of the way by his friend Roy Cohn) became the prime cause of 1954's Army-McCarthy Hearings, which eventually led to Senator McCarthy's downfall, and Roy Cohn's dismissal from Federal Goverment employment. [Both young men can be seen depicted with their boss on the cover of 'Time' Magazine's issue of March 22, 1954]. Gwen T. Barrows, who wrote our typed memorandum, eventually became the managing editor of the Foreign Service Journal. . (Inventory #: 39359)
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