Nostalgic narratives of the 1950s obscure a different history of post–World War II childhood, when American youth were mobilized and politicized by the federal government, private corporations, and individual adults to fight the Cold War both at home and abroad. American children actively fought the Cold War, engaging in cultural diplomacy as semi-official diplomats and cultural ambassadors of the United States through art exchange programs, letter-writing campaigns, patriotic pageants, fundraising activities, and international educational exchanges. At the heart of this study is a paradox: children’s innocence constituted the basis for their political activities on behalf of the state. On the one hand, children were imagined as the potential victims of communist indoctrination and nuclear war, the most precious, and endangered, resources of democratic society. But their presumed innocence was also deployed as a political weapon in a global struggle against communism.
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