Monday, April 06, 2009

Selling the War

One of the more interesting books I read in college was War Without Mercy, about issues of race in American and Japanese propaganda during World War II. In short, it details how both sides portrayed the other side in animalistic terms in a concerted effort to dehumanize them. Easier to kill 'em that way, of course.

I was reminded of that book by this article over at Reason. It's an interview with Alan Axlerod, who's written a book called Selling the Great War: The Making of American Propaganda. As with many American tales, it's the story of a dedicated individual:

George Creel was a crusading journalist of the generation of muckrakers at the start of the 20th century. When President Wilson first ran for the White House in 1912 he became a passionate supporter. Wilson was a progressive reformer, and Creel wrote an entire book in defense of Wilson’s decision to avoid entering World War I.

In 1916, Wilson ran on the slogan 'he kept us out of war.' When within a few weeks after Wilson was inaugurated for a second term he went to Congress to request a declaration of war, Creel offered his services to Wilson to help in any way he could.
Creel went on to create the Committee on Public Information, which would become such a successful propaganda organization that it became a model for the Nazis. An ignominious achievement, to be sure, but still . . ..

Looks like an interesting read.

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