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After the surrender of Germany in World War II but before the defeat of Japan, the first US full-fledged science writer, William L. Laurence, while on the payroll of both The New York Times and the US government, was given exclusive journalistic access by the US War Department to operate behind what he calls the 'Atomic Curtain' and to write news articles that were then disseminated for free worldwide for the lay public. This research article is based on analyzing for the first time about 250 pages of typed carbon copies of Laurence's drafts that were marked up by US government censors before publication, thus establishing early on the US monopoly over information that was spooned out so as to control and shape public knowledge and awareness about this revolutionary weapon, both domestically and internationally. These carbon copies were stamped TOP SECRET in red ink at the time, but decades later were declassified and housed in the US National Archives in a file marked 'Laurence Stories'. In this analysis, five conspicuous themes are discussed, including minimizing the existence and dangers of radioactivity.

Keywords: New York Times; William L. Laurence; censorship; citizen resistance; propaganda; self-censorship

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2008

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