Erskine Caldwell, Margaret Bourke-White, and the Popular Front (Moscow 1941)
AuthorCaldwell, Jay E.
AdvisorHogle, Jerrold E.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractErskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White traveled to the U.S.S.R. in 1941 on their and their editor's hunch that something newsworthy was in the offing. The couple went in part to add to their library of phototext books (three had been published since 1936), but more to advance the agenda of the anti-Fascist, anti-isolationist Leftist Popular Front, whose goals coincided with those of the Roosevelt administration. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, they immediately immersed themselves in the enterprise of bringing war news to the American listening and reading public. Through the portals of CBS radio, Life magazine, PM newspaper, and other journalistic outlets, and despite stultifying censorship, they made it clear that the Red Army was a formidable anti-Hitler force that wanted only financial and material assistance from the U.S., and that the Russian people, steeped in patriotism and family values not very different from American ideals, were worthy allies. Stalin, they hinted, was a well-intentioned and well-organized autocrat, but nothing worse. Upon returning to the United States, Bourke-White traveled extensively to promote a Russian-American alliance, and published a photo-chronicle of their Russian trip, Shooting the Russian War. Caldwell published two very different books, All-Out on the Road to Smolensk and All Night Long, that also advocated this coalition. I argue that Caldwell composed Smolensk as a heroic quest to report on the war firsthand, while All Night Long, a popular and sensational story about Russian guerillas, bears all the characteristics of a Socialist Realist novel touting the Soviet cause. Both books were successful in endorsing Soviet objectives in the West. Their individual and collaborative literary products have been largely forgotten, but Bourke-White's photographs continue to inform our memory of that war.
Degree ProgramGraduate College