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Our Secret Weapon

The October 16 1942 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:

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If you were going to hire somebody to broadcast war propaganda, is there a better name than “Rex Stout”?

Rex Stout (1886-1975), whose full name was Rex Todhunter Stout, was a mystery writer who was best known for creating detective Nero Wolfe. He wrote 33 novels and 39 novellas about Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin, between 1934 and his death. The Wolfe Pack website provides more details on Wolfe and on Stout’s writing.

Between 1942 and 1943, Stout cut back on his novel writing to produce 62 broadcasts of Our Secret Weapon. His goal was to refute short-wave propaganda being broadcast by the Axis. The Library of Congress now has a complete record of the typewritten pages of the scripts of these broadcasts, transferred onto a total of 8000 feet of microfilm.

After the war, Stout was accused of being a Communist by a prominent member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was closely watched by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. This seems misplaced, as Stout was a fierce anti-Communist; he was later condemned for being too harsh on Communism and too much in favour of the Vietnam War. Some days, you just can’t win.