Fall 2007 • Vol. XXIX No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 2007 |

Kultur Clash at the White House: Dwight Macdonald and the 1965 Festival of the Arts

I. If you dabbled in left-wing politics at virtually anytime during the three decades after World War II, you could be certain of one thing—J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was maintaining a dossier on you. Many seasoned veterans of internecine Left sectarian warfare have proudly brandished their files of those days as a badge of honor. Interestingly enough, however, one old radical didn't earn his place on the FBI's watch list until late in both his career and Hoover's own. Despite his defiant Trotskyism in the 1930s, his belligerent pacifism during World War II, and his recalcitrant anarchism thereafter, it wasn't until Lyndon Johnson's ill-timed White House Festival of the Arts—his literary gala in June 1965 to emulate the Kennedy administration's courtship of the world of culture—that the vigilant gaze of the G-men fell upon the mercurial, exuberantly outspoken Dwight Macdonald. Macdonald's FBI file numbers 118 pages and provides a fascinating glimpse into how the worlds o

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John Rodden’s most recent books are Textbook Reds: Schoolbooks, Ideology, and Eastern German Identity (2013) and The Unexamined Orwell (2012).

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