The Incredible Story Of How President Eisenhower Fought Communism With Jazz

by
Owen Poindexter
President Eisenhower had a secret weapon against Communism: Dave Brubeck and jazz.

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The Cold War got pretty deeply strange. There was a lot of sinister stuff happening on both sides, as the U.S. and U.S.S.R. tried to undermine each other, but there was a lot that was less sinister and more just weird. While the Cold War was a fight over geopolitical influence and natural resources, it was also a fight over hearts and minds. Communism was seen in America as frighteningly conformist, and America had developed one of the best anti-conformity weapons in history: jazz.

Jazz had been derided by the established forces in America as a subversive force that could corrupt the morals of otherwise good people. They were right about the subversive part. Jazz is a seductive boundary crosser—it draws new life from crossing lines.

All that is a lead in to this strange and wonderful story about how President Eisenhower sent the legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck to Poland to fight Communism with jazz.

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