Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii, 1950. Item #1409
400 pp. 19,5x13 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Spine, fragments of the covers, and first 15 leaves restored, small burnt spot on the lower edge throughout the front cover and some pages, ink marks on the title page, otherwise very good.
First and only edition.
An interesting propaganda edition published in the early period of the Cold War. The book spread “all the truth” about the FBI and its director John Hoover, American gangsters, secret organizations, and methods they were using to influence people.
The photomontage on the front cover features high-rise buildings of an American metropolis and a caricature spider weaving a web over the city. The spider’s body depicts the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, its legs are portrayed as flexible, hairy, and clawed tentacles, and the head is that of an intelligence officer with a hat and a bow tie.
The photomontage was created by the Soviet self-taught artist and caricaturist Vasilii Fomichev (1908-1998). During the Great Patriotic War, the artist produced propaganda posters and contributed to various frontline newspapers. After the war, Fomichev headed a satirical section of the newspaper Gudok [i.e. A Beep] and leveled “ruthless and well-aimed fire” at bureaucrats, idlers, and other sabotagers. The artist is best known for political posters and caricatures against imperialism, American foreign policy, and NATO.
The foreword reads: “American people have never really enjoyed basic civil liberties. To suppress these freedoms and stifle the progressive movement, the American plutocracy created a perfect in the capitalist world system of political oppression.” The author, Vladislav Minaev (1905-1966), wrote a range of works on the history and activities of international intelligence and counterintelligence.
In 1949, employees of the Department of Agitation and Propaganda of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, D. Shepilov and L. Ilyichev wrote about this book: “A significant part of the book ‘American Gestapo’ is based on the author’s conjectures and surmises, therefore it can’t serve to expose criminal activities of the American intelligence agencies. The author used classified materials that are inappropriate to talk about in the mass press. According to the Minister of State Security of the USSR, comrade Abakumov, secret materials about American intelligence were kept in Minaev’s apartment. The organs of state security confiscated all these materials.” Minaev himself wrote to V. Molotov that the materials were taken entirely from American sources – press and literature. Finally, the 400-page book came out in the print run of 50,000 copies and was reissued in Czechoslovakia (1952), Poland (1952), and Hungary (1953).
Copies are located in LoC, Princeton, and Harvard Universities.