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Book Looks at CIA’s Role in RFE, RL

Author had access to material previously classified

“Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond” is a new book by A. Ross Johnson.

According to the publisher, Johnson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former director of Radio Free Europe and director of the RFE/RL Research Institute, was able to access previously classified material for information on the CIA’s involvement during the first two decades of the “radios.” He also used material from archives in Germany, Hungary and Poland.

A release describes the book as concentrating “on the origins and role of RFE/RL in the context of U.S. national security strategy, with particular attention to the role of the CIA in covertly organizing and funding RFE/RL from 1949 to 1971.”

That includes what are considered some of Radio Free Europe’s most significant periods, the 1956 uprisings in Hungary and Poland and the 1968 “Prague Spring” in Poland.

The publisher states in the release that RFE/RL were “arguably one of the most important and successful policy instruments of the United States during the Cold War,” and that Johnson distills lessons that might be useful now “as the United States tries to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of foreign elites and populations and promote positive political change, particularly in the Muslim world.”

The book is co-published by the Woodrow Wilson Center and Stanford University.