Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Darlene J. Sadlier's "Americans All"

Darlene J. Sadlier is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Adjunct Professor of American Studies and Communication and Culture at Indiana University–Bloomington. Her books include the cultural history, Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Present (2008).

Sadlier applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Americans All: Good Neighbor Cultural Diplomacy in World War II, and reported the following:
Page 99 [inset below left, click to enlarge] is from a chapter on the Radio Division that was part of a cultural and commercial agency created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 to strengthen ties between the United States and Latin America during World War II. Nelson A Rockefeller was appointed by Roosevelt to head the agency, which was called the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. Within the agency there were divisions dedicated to film, press and publications, art and education, cultural relations as well as radio. Among those who worked for the Radio Division was the poet Archibald MacLeish, who was also head of the Library of Congress and Assistant Director of the Office of War Information. Along with programs such as Land of the Free, his The American Story episodes (1944) were featured in the agency’s NBC University of the Air, a broadcast that focused on programs to educate listeners about the history of the Americas. Also popular with listening audiences were musical programs that were transmitted throughout the U.S. and Latin America. U.S. listeners were already well-acquainted with Brazilian samba and other Latin American music and they were delighted with programs that featured other popular rhythms. Latin Americans were less interested in North American swing and jazz than they were in folkloric music and symphonic compositions from the U.S. Although the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs tried to emphasize the Good Neighbor similarities among the countries of the Americas, music was among the subjects where one can see differences of opinion and taste.
Learn more about Americans All at the University of Texas Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue