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Judith Devlin on Talking History, 27 April 2014

War of Words
Culture and the Mass Media in the Making of the Cold War in Europe

Judith Devlin (editor)
Christoph Hendrik Muller (editor)
Publication date:
20th June 2013

Author Biography

Judith Devlin is a lecturer in modern history at University College Dublin. Christoph Hendrik Muller is an editor and correspondent with the German news agency dpa in Berlin and Brussels.


War of Words is a volume of essays on the role of propaganda, mass media and culture in the development of the Cold War in Europe. Exploring a dimension of the political and diplomatic rivalry of interest to historians principally in the last decade, these essays explore the cultural dimensions of the early Cold War. The powers felt it necessary to explain and justify to Europeans the division of the continent into two hostile blocs and to mobilise them behind these reinvented European identities, by drawing on elements of national tradition while at the same time invoking modernity. The mass media and popular culture (whose penetration into parts of Eastern and South Eastern Europe was still relatively recent) were harnessed to the demands of propaganda. Even the built environment was mobilised to this end. The antithetical character of the two blocs was not in all respects as absolute as it seemed at the time. Similar cultural and social trends influenced the politics of culture on both sides of the Iron Curtain. This book examines some of these similarities and parallels as well as the intentions and articulation of official policy.