Rockin’ The Un-Free World

Pivoting off Anne Applebaum's new history of life behind the Iron Curtain, Louis Menand notes the indispensable part that rock and roll played in the liberation of Eastern Europe:

“The Wild One,” “Blackboard Jungle,” and “Rock Around the Clock” caused youth riots in both East and West Germany in 1955 and 1956. In the notorious “cultural Cold War,” during which the C.I.A. covertly supported—and the State Department and American museums and foundations overtly funded—the dissemination of American art, books, literary and intellectual journalism, dance, theatre, and music, the one product that can plausibly be argued to have made a difference in the eventual overthrow of Communism was rock and roll. Bill Haley and Frank Zappa likely did more to inspire the dissidents in Eastern Europe than Jackson Pollock or the writers at Partisan Review.