Duncan White

Journalist Duncan White to Speak at Trinity Men’s Union and St. James Men’s Club Joint Dinner Meeting


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Trinity Men’s Union of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston and the St. James Men’s Club of St. James Armenian Apostolic Church will present Duncan White as their guest speaker at their joint dinner meeting, hosted by the Trinity Men’s Union, on Monday, September 9.

White, an award-winning journalist and academic is assistant director of studies in history and literature at Harvard University and a lead book reviewer for the Daily Telegraph. His talk will focus on “Writers on the Front Line of the Cold War,” and his newly-published book, Cold Warriors:  Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War.

In the Cold War, literature was a battleground and books were weapons.  Publishing the right story at the right time could make you a hero; writing the wrong story in the wrong place could get you shot.  Novels and poems could win hearts and minds of those caught between the competing creeds of capitalism and communism, and vast propaganda operations were initiated to ensure the right books got to the right readers and that the wrong books were kept out of circulation.  So seriously was literature taken that the clandestine intelligence services of America, Britain and the Soviet Union all had agents dedicated to its exploitation as cultural warfare.

Drawing on archival research, the latest declassified intelligence files, and a deep understanding of the lives and works of writers of the period, Cold Warriors is the first definitive account of its kind.  White vividly chronicles how this ferocious intellectual struggle was waged on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  That the stakes were high as the world stood on the brink of nuclear destruction is well-known; what is less well understood is just how important writers were as players in the game.


Cold Warriors focuses on five major writers – George Orwell, Stephen Spender, Mary McCarthy, Graham Greene, and Andrei Sinyavsky – but the full cast includes a dazzling array of literary giants.

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Some of the many highlights of the book include:

  • Ernest Hemingway leading a band of guerrilla fighters in the march on Paris during the Second World War;
  • George Orwell trying to get Animal Farm published in wartime London, little realizing an undercover KGB agent was pressuring publishers to reject the book;
  • Anna Akhmatova refusing to bow to Stalin as he makes her the scapegoat in his Cold War purge on any writer with connections to the West;
  • Graham Greene, drawing on his clandestine meetings with revolutionaries in Cuba to write Our Man in Havana, a novel that anticipated the Cuban Missile Crisis;
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn taking on the Kremlin and the KGB, with the publication of Gulag Archipelago, his explosive history of the Soviet labor camps; and
  • John le Carré working as an M16 spy in Germany being sent to Berlin as the Wall goes up, and drawing on the experience to write The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Cold Warriors is a welcome reminder that writers and books can change the world.

The dinner meeting will be held in the Charles and Nevart Talanian Cultural Hall of Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston, 145 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA.  All are welcome to attend.  The social hour begins at 6 p.m., and dinner at 7 p.m.  Donation for the losh kebab and kheyma dinner is $15 per person. RSVP is requested by September 6 by emailing David Dorian at tmuhtaac@gmail.com, or contacting the Holy Trinity Church Office, office@htaac.org.

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