The CIA and the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the Early Cold War: The Limits of Making Common Cause, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The CIA and the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the Early Cold War

The Limits of Making Common Cause, 1st Edition

By Sarah Miller Harris


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This book questions the conventional wisdom about one of the most controversial episodes in the Cold War, and tells the story of the CIA's backing of the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

For nearly two decades during the early Cold War, the CIA secretly sponsored some of the world’s most feted writers, philosophers, and scientists as part of a campaign to prevent Communism from regaining a foothold in Western Europe and from spreading to Asia. By backing the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA subsidized dozens of prominent magazines, global congresses, annual seminars, and artistic festivals. When this operation (QKOPERA) became public in 1967, it ignited one of the most damaging scandals in CIA history. Ever since then, many accounts have argued that the CIA manipulated a generation of intellectuals into lending their names to pro-American, anti-Communist ideas. Others have suggested a more nuanced picture of the relationship between the Congress and the CIA, with intellectuals sometimes resisting the CIA's bidding. Very few accounts, however, have examined the man who held the Congress together: Michael Josselson, the Congress’s indispensable manager—and, secretly, a long time CIA agent. This book fills that gap. Using a wealth of archival research and interviews with many of the figures associated with the Congress, this book sheds new light on how the Congress came into existence and functioned, both as a magnet for prominent intellectuals and as a CIA operation.

This book will be of much interest to students of the CIA, Cold War History, intelligence studies, US foreign policy and International Relations in general.

Table of Contents



1. Berlin: The Early Years

2. Intellectuals: From Communism to Anti-Communism

3. The Outbreak of Ideological Hostilities

4. From the Waldorf to Paris

5. Josselson Joins the Agency

6. A Congress for Cultural Freedom: Berlin, 1950

7. From Berlin to Paris: Josselson and the Congress in Transition

8. James Burnham’s Rival

9. The CIA and the Non-Communist Left

10. The 1952 Paris Festival

11. Encounter Magazine: The Congress's 'Greatest Asset' 12. New Management at the Agency

13. The 1955 Milan Congress and the End of Ideology

14. A Revolution of Intellectuals: Hungary, 1956

15. The Most Famous Article that Encounter Never Ran

16. The 1967 Scandal


About the Author

Sarah Miller Harris is a lawyer and has a PhD in International Relations from the University of Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

Studies in Intelligence

The growing interest in intelligence activities and the opening of hitherto closed archives since the end of the Cold War has stimulated this series of scholarly monographs, wartime memoirs and edited collections. With contributions from leading academics and prominent members of the intelligence community, this series has quickly become the leading forum for the academic study of intelligence.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Intelligence