CONELRAD READ ALERT: Selected Books and Miscellaneous Tracts

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THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! Pageantry and Patriotism in Cold War America

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! is a fascinating and thorough study of a little known aspect of Cold War culture: The Pageant (aka Political Street Theater). Author Richard M. Fried discusses the various patriotic celebration programs of the era such as “Know Your America Week,” “Freedom Week,” and “I Am an American Day,” but the highlight of the book is a lengthy examination of Mosinee, Wisconsin’s “Day Under Communism” Pageant of 1950. On May 1, 1950 the town of Mosinee cooperated with the American Legion to stage a mock Soviet invasion for educational purposes.

Under the glare of heavy media coverage (even the Soviet news agency TASS sent a reporter) the citizens of Mosinee spent a day under the boot of Red thugs. The mayor and police chief were relieved of their posts and the Mosinee Times newspaper was taken over and re-named “the Red Star” and printed on pink paper. Fried, a professor of history at the University of Illinois in Chicago, makes this peculiar, distant spectacle come alive by describing all the odd nuances that accompanied the Mosinee event’s execution. Fried also recounts a leftist “counter-pageantry” effort that took place the night before the Day Under Communism got underway in which leaflets critical of the imminent pageant were left on doorsteps throughout Mosinee.

At least two other small towns followed Mosinee’s example to lesser public notice and effect: Hartley, Iowa and Rushville, Indiana. However, Mosinee did help inspire a remarkable 1951 U.S. Armed Forced Information Film entitled FACE TO FACE WITH COMMUNISM. And, of course, in 1962 Warner Brothers produced the Jack Webb Soviet occupation classic RED NIGHTMARE which begat RED DAWN (1984) and AMERIKA (1987).

Professor Fried has performed an invaluable service to history with The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! He has rescued an obscure (but amazing) footnote of the Cold War era and he has preserved it and placed it in perspective for all of us.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! Pageantry and Patriotism in Cold War America
By Richard M. Fried
Copyright 1998; Published by Oxford University Press, Inc., New York
220 Pages

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