It is the early Cold War. The Soviet Union appears to be in irresistible ascendance, and moves to exploit the Olympic Games as a vehicle for promoting international communism. In response, the United States conceives a subtle, far-reaching psychological warfare campaign to blunt the Soviet advance.
Drawing on newly declassified materials and archives, Toby C. Rider chronicles how the US government used the Olympics to promote democracy and its own policy aims during the tense early phase of the Cold War. Rider shows how the government, though constrained by traditions against interference in the Games, eluded detection by cooperating with private groups, including secretly funded émigré organizations bent on liberating their home countries from Soviet control. At the same time, the United States appropriated Olympic host cities to hype the American economic and political system while, behind the scenes, the government attempted clandestine manipulation of the International Olympic Committee. Rider also details the campaigns that sent propaganda materials around the globe as the United States mobilized culture in general, and sports in particular, to fight the communist threat.