FBIS


Fostering Understanding—and Children: Pearl S. Buck Interprets China for Americans and Chinese Alike

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Pearl S. Buck inhabited many roles over the course of her life. Following the publication of her bestselling novel The Good Earth in 1931 she was widely known as a writer who crafted a compelling narrative of life in a Chinese village. After she won a Pulitzer Prize for that book in 1932, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, she was regarded as a celebrity and a public intellectual as well.

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To many women she was a beacon of the equal rights movement; for many mixed-race children she was quite simply a savior. To the Chinese among whom she lived she was Sai Zhenzhu (賽珍珠, Chinese for “Precious Pearl”). The communists feared and hated her, but her reputation has since been reappraised and her homes in China are now tourist attractions.

Fostering Understanding—and Children: Pearl S. Buck Interprets China for Americans and Chinese Alike

Andrei Vlasov, the Russian Liberation Army, and Operation Keelhaul: A Tragic Diplomatic and Humanitarian Debacle

The aims of the Committee of Liberation of the Peoples of Russia are: the overthrow of Stalin’s tyranny, the liberation of the peoples of Russia from the Bolshevik system, and the restitution of those rights to the peoples of Russia which they fought for and won in the people’s revolution of 1917.

Andrei Vlasov, The Prague Manifesto, November 14, 1944

It’s November 14, 1944, and an armed uprising against Stalinist terror and Bolshevism is in progress. Its participants number well into the six figures and have been formed into an actual army. Its leader is Andrei Vlasov, a former general in the Red Army who had fought the Germans at the Battle of Moscow in 1941. Now he is allied with them, but only just.

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Vlasov makes his way to the microphone in a crowded ballroom in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and declaims a manifesto excoriating Soviet communist oppression. He speaks as a pragmatic man of firm convictions and steady purpose, and he gives a bravura performance, a definitive example of speaking truth to power. But he is also a man divided in his loyalties.

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Andrei Vlasov, the Russian Liberation Army, and Operation Keelhaul: A Tragic Diplomatic and Humanitarian Debacle

Assignment in Dystopia: Revisiting Eugene Lyons’ Critique of Russia’s October Revolution on the Occasion of Its Centenary

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In 1967 author and journalist Eugene Lyons published an article in the Washington Evening Star under the headline, “Freedom Came to Russians on this Day 50 Years Ago.” A bit of math would place that momentous event in 1917; surely he’s referring to the “Great October” revolution?

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No, his dateline is March 12, and the revolution he’s commemorating is the one that actually resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the collapse of the Romanov dynasty. By Lyons’ reckoning, the true Russian revolution occurred in February (following the Russian Orthodox Julian calendar, which would place it in March according to the Gregorian calendar used in the West).

In his article, Lyons took severe issue with the Soviet mythology surrounding the October (Bolshevik) revolution that literally wiped out the most liberal government Russia had ever known, writing:

The successful grab for power by Lenin, Trotsky, and their small following was a deed plotted in secrecy, a private cabal, with the masses so much raw stuff to be terrorized and processed.

 

Assignment in Dystopia: Revisiting Eugene Lyons’ Critique of Russia’s October Revolution on the Occasion of Its Centenary

Lifting the Bamboo Curtain: The Rise and Fall of “Guided Democracy” and the Indonesian Communist Party

Consider for a moment the plight of Indonesia’s leaders in 1945: how to establish a national identity in a country spread across more than 13,000 islands, featuring hundreds of languages and ethnic groups, all in a precarious balance between the military, Muslims, and communists?

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During Indonesia’s struggle to break free from over 300 years of Dutch colonial rule, and then from Japanese military occupation following World War II, early attempts to govern through parliamentary democracy became synonymous with corruption and bureaucratic paralysis. Between 1950 and 1959 there were seven attempts to build coalition governments, the last culminating in a period of martial law. Clearly a new approach was needed.

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That approach came to be known as “Guided Democracy” (Demokrasi Terpimpin). Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president and the leader of the 1945 revolution that finally established Indonesia as a sovereign state, exercised an increasingly prominent role in the nation’s politics until his downfall in 1967. His administration’s managed or “Guided” democracy became more than an empty slogan or a euphemism for one-man rule; we shall see that there was indeed a unique Indonesian variant of the socialist experiment.

Lifting the Bamboo Curtain: The Rise and Fall of “Guided Democracy” and the Indonesian Communist Party

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Sage and Scourge of Communism

“Write what you know,” goes the dictum. Thus from Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn we have among many other works the following:

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich—forced labor camps
  • First Circle (i.e., of Hell)forced labor camps for scientists
  • Cancer Ward—malady as social metaphor
  • August 1914—blunders in warfare
  • Gulag Archipelago—the definitive guide to Soviet forced labor camps.

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With such a pronounced critical voice, we can surmise that Solzhenitsyn’s writing was unlikely to win him lasting friends in the Soviet government. Before his first major work, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), could be published, none other than Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev needed to give his permission. The timing was right; Khrushchev was still intent on denouncing the excesses of Stalinism, and Solzhenitsyn’s writing gained his favor in that political climate. But the thaw didn’t last.

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When Khrushchev was deposed in 1964, Solzhenitsyn experienced a similar downturn in his fate. By 1970 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he didn’t dare leave the country and so had to wait until he was sent into exile in the West in 1974 before he could actually collect the prize.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Sage and Scourge of Communism

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.

Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.

Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:

Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

Researching the Chinese Cultural Revolution Using FBIS Reports: A Personal View of the Impact of Digitization, 1990 to 2013

It was January 1990, and I looked out my dorm window at the snow falling, yet again.  Forecasters were calling for nine more inches, adding to the foot already on the ground. Winter in upstate New York can be brutal, and the thought of trudging across campus to the library to research my Modern History thesis wasn't appealing.  But following a recent class discussion about why so many Germans blindly followed Hitler's insane directives, I wanted to explore why so many Chinese citizens blindly followed the Red Guards and Mao Zedong during the infamous Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1978.  In 1990, China was still reeling from the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre the year before, and I wanted to understand these questions, “How did Mao build such a cult of personality and incite mass imprisonment, torture and public humiliation of its citizens, and was China headed back towards a new kind of revolution?“ 

Researching the Chinese Cultural Revolution Using FBIS Reports: A Personal View of the Impact of Digitization, 1990 to 2013

Attend a Webinar on Foreign Intelligence from Publicly Available Media, 1941-1996

Readex provides digital access to the principal historical record of open-source intelligence gathered by the United States for more than half a century. Spanning Africa, Asia and the Pacific, China, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Soviet Union, this intelligence—obtained from publicly available media and translated into English—includes reports from radio and television broadcasts, journals and newspapers, monographs, reports and other sources. 

Readex Product Director Brett Kolcun will offer a live presentation on March 28 for librarians, faculty and students. This in-depth webinar will explore the content, features and functionality of these two Readex collections:

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1996

Translated broadcasts and news from every region of the world

Attend a Webinar on Foreign Intelligence from Publicly Available Media, 1941-1996

Open Source Intelligence: FBIS, JPRS and the Evolution of Meaning

Nearly a quarter century ago, Glenda J. Pearson, University of Washington, wrote:

“The definition between government document and nongovernment document blurs, particularly as the intelligence tentacles of the United States government seek every shred of information, news, detail—and bring it home for contemplation, digestion and eventual redistribution.... 

“Prime examples of the ‘documentization’ of information are the United States Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) and its equally acquisitive partner, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)....Of interest here are the transforming effect these services have on the information they amass and the research and societal value that results.

“The significance of information collected by JPRS and FBIS is enormous. Of greatest importance is the diversity of viewpoints suddenly made accessible by subject and in English. To be able to understand these resources in relation to their special provenances is especially critical in appraising their informational value.

“FBIS, for example, literally provides an ear to the rest of the world through the collection and translation of radio news and editorial broadcasts....

Open Source Intelligence: FBIS, JPRS and the Evolution of Meaning

Attend a Webinar on Open-Source Intelligence (FBIS and JPRS)

Readex provides digital access to the principal historical record of open-source intelligence gathered by the United States from World War II through the end of the Cold War. Spanning Africa, Asia and the Pacific, China, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Soviet Union, this intelligence, obtained from publicly available media, includes reports from radio and television broadcasts, journals and newspapers, monographs, reports and other sources. Together, these uniquely valuable reports—available in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1996 and the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995—provide millions of pages of English-language information.

 

Date and Time: Thursday, November 8, 1 to 2 pm EST

Attend a Webinar on Open-Source Intelligence (FBIS and JPRS)

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