Readers Digest, May 1961—Part 2

Hostages crop

On page 37 we find the above declaration over an article by Hanson W. Baldwin. It’s easy to forget that Muslim radicals didn’t invent the use of hostage taking as a instrument of low-instensity warfare.

 Hostages to Communism

When this article was published, Hanson had already been the Naval Editor for the New York Times for almost 20 years (A Naval Editor!, that was back in the day when the Gray Lady could be taken seriously about matters of national security), and had won a Pulitzer in 1943 for his coverage of naval strategy in Pacific Theater during World War II. He first went to work for the Times in, get this, 1928. He died in 1991.

The article itemizes all the provocative incidents the Soviets and the Red Chinese had perpetrated in recent years, several of which resulted in the deaths of American servicemen. Of course, the mother of all Soviet provocations wouldn’t hit the headlines for about 17 months.

In searching for additional information on Hanson W. Baldwin, a came across this—the transcript of a talk he gave to The Empire Club of Toronto in January of 1940. The talk, supplemented by “lantern slides,” was titled “Some Strategic Aspects of the War in 1940.”

Of course in January of 1940, “The War” was the localized European spat involving Germany, France and England. Hitler had not yet invaded the Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark–not to mention France. It’s fascinating (to me anyway) to read Baldwin’s analysis of the situation and attempts to predict what will happen.

He was right about a few things. Wrong about a lot of others. But then, everybody was. Most grossly understimated the madness, aggresion and power-hunger of the enemy. They still do.

{Bonus: For amature students of Freudian imagery in vintage ads, look at the Coke ad on the opposite page and try to count the sexually-suggestive symbols and proxies. It’s like David Lynch was the art director.}