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Cold War Orientalism

Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945-1961

Christina Klein (Author)

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In the years following World War II, American writers and artists produced a steady stream of popular stories about Americans living, working, and traveling in Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile the U.S., competing with the Soviet Union for global power, extended its reach into Asia to an unprecedented degree. This book reveals that these trends—the proliferation of Orientalist culture and the expansion of U.S. power—were linked in complex and surprising ways. While most cultural historians of the Cold War have focused on the culture of containment, Christina Klein reads the postwar period as one of international economic and political integration—a distinct chapter in the process of U.S.-led globalization.

Through her analysis of a wide range of texts and cultural phenomena—including Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and The King and I, James Michener's travel essays and novel Hawaii, and Eisenhower's People-to-People Program—Klein shows how U.S. policy makers, together with middlebrow artists, writers, and intellectuals, created a culture of global integration that represented the growth of U.S. power in Asia as the forging of emotionally satisfying bonds between Americans and Asians. Her book enlarges Edward Said's notion of Orientalism in order to bring to light a cultural narrative about both domestic and international integration that still resonates today.
List of Illustrations

1. Sentimental Education: Creating a Global Imaginary of Integration
2. Reader's Digest, Saturday review, and the Middlebrow Aesthetic of Commitment
3. How to Be an American Abroad: James Michener's The Voice of Asia and Postwar Mass Tourism
4. Family Ties as Political Obligation: Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific, and the Discourse of Adoption
5. Musicals and Modernization: The King and I
6. Asians in America: Flower Drum Song and Hawaii

Christina Klein is Associate Professor of Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Breathtakingly well documented, convincingly argued, and a pleasure to read, this book strikes a refreshingly just note. Cold War Orientalism is excellent and indispensable for anyone interested in Cold War culture."—Seung Hye Suh American Literature
“All students of contemporary discourses of “globalization” will need to consider Klein’s striking and richly argued study.”—J. Whalen-Bridge Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“An extremely interesting and suggestive book that transcneds its specific focus to offer a number of important insights about American culure and the Cold War generally.”—Journal Of American Stds
"Christina Klein takes a fresh, stimulating, and enlightening look at the complex visions of Asia dreamed over the decades by American popular culture. She argues her provocative viewpoints with the verve and flair of a showman, in a book which helps us to see the whole world through new eyes."—David Henry Hwang, author of M. Butterfly and Flower Drum Song (2002)

"An extraordinarily interesting study of ‘Cold War internationalism.’ Klein’s brilliant and imaginative reading of such musicals as South Pacific and The King and I enables us to see how culture and geopolitics were woven together to transform the Cold War order into today’s ethnically diverse and economically interdependent world—within the framework of ‘U.S. global expansion.’"—Akira Iriye, Professor of History, Harvard University, and author, Global Community

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