Amanda Laugesen: Taking Books to the World: American Publishers and the Cultural Cold War
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Once upon a time there were serious statesmen and -women who realized that persuasion is a stronger force than coercion. With persuasion one might not only actively engage other people to try to better their lot by getting them to emulate insightful practice, but one might at the same time also sell one’s enlightened point of view as being the way things ought to be. With or without charitable intentions, someone might make life better for someone else simply by sharing knowledge that—however hard won or earned on his or her own part—might prove valuable to the other party simply by virtue of its inherent worth. Worth for what? Worth first for intrinsic information, for example in how to grow corn and wheat and feed people, but also in how to establish and promote democracy according to a tried-and-true principle, to wit: Democracy stands on two legs, an educated and literate citizenry and a free and unencumbered press.
Making the world safe for democracy, as everyone once understood,...