Much commentary on the late Chuck Berry will focus on how his songs expressed fun and teenage angst. This is the right thing to do. Yet there’s more. For example, Berry’s obsession with the comparative qualities of fast cars — most brilliantly displayed in his song “Maybellene” — did not just reflect the rise of post-WW II consumerist culture....He preferred V-8 Fords over Cadillacs because he spent several years in the late 1940s and early 1950s helping make Ford cars.
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Scholars are producing increasingly detailed accounts of how the U.S. government utilized artists and culture in the Cold War anti-Communist crusade. According to former diplomat John H. Brown, this new study, by Greg Barnhisel, shows that an important factor in making modernism work for U.S. Cold War interests involved "defanging modernism of its radicalism and turning it into an international vehicle for whitebread all-American convictions."