Since the 1940s, America’s relations with the rest of the world have been guided by the idea of promoting the free flow of information. It’s an idea that seems benign, perhaps even difficult to argue against—who could possibly oppose the freedom of information? But, as Diana Lemberg
shows in her exciting new book, Barriers Down: How American Power and Free-Flow Policies Shaped Global Media
(Columbia University Press, 2019), the idea wasn’t always benign and many fought against its implementation.
In the book, Lemberg, an associate professor at Lingnan University, examines how American businessmen, statesmen, and social scientists sought to tear down barriers to transnational flows of information in the post-WWII era, and, in the process, maximize the spread of American content abroad. Barriers Down
is an innovative study that shows just how central information politics were to the US’ vision of the global order. The book deserves a wide audience.
Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @DexterFergie.