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Propaganda [Kindle Edition]

Edward Bernays , Mark Crispin Miller
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Bernays’ honest and practical manual provides much insight into some of the most powerful and influential institutions of contemporary industrial state capitalist democracies.”—Noam Chomsky

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”—Edward Bernays, Propaganda

A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.” During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon.

Bernays applied the techniques he had learned in the CPI and, incorporating some of the ideas of Walter Lipmann, became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic and corporate manipulation of the population. His 1928 bombshell Propaganda lays out his eerily prescient vision for using propaganda to regiment the collective mind in a variety of areas, including government, politics, art, science and education. To read this book today is to frightfully comprehend what our contemporary institutions of government and business have become in regards to organized manipulation of the masses.

This is the first reprint of Propaganda in over 30 years and features an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder.



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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
253 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars--but Not in a literary sense November 26, 2002
Format:Hardcover
The first lines: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true rulling power of our country." This was written in 1928. This newphew of Sigmund Freud worked in Woodrow Wilson's creation, the Committee on Public Information, and saw first hand how the public's mind can be manipulated. Wilson was elected on a peace platform and had to transform the country to go to war against the German Kaiser. Bernays later helped publicize the American Tobacco Company, and is credited as a "father" of public relations. Anyone interested in understanding how the masses are moulded by the powers that be must read this book!
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146 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable resource for Americans January 6, 2005
Format:Paperback
The rating here is primarily for the value of this book, smartly put back into print.

Propaganda, though written in the late 1920s, is an excellent resource for a citizen in general. This manual, a seminal document, is a key resource on the thoughts and workings of the public relations industry, then only a speck compared to what it is today. Everything from corporate PR to advertising in general has basically internalized what is covered in this book in order to serve those institutional functions that mold the public's mind.

This is all related to the 'manufacture of consent', something that Chomsky, who writes a good intro here, and Ed Herman explored in depth in their book 'Manufacturing Consent' where they lay down a Propaganda Model.

This is a huge topic for Americans, period. While media and their role, and their 'slants' is a hot topic (sometimes even within the media, but to limited scope of discussion) this book is a straightforward reprint of the PR industry manual. It's no 'secret'--it's more like company policy. It's far more illuminating than the latest pundit book of the week, discussing, among other things, the 'liberal' media, say.

Don't let the intro or its author derail you from reading this--this is nothing more than a mini-bible on how to manipulate the masses in an institutional framework (media, PR, government, etc). There's nothing really controversial here, since this is basically a historical document that still holds up after decades. Highly recommended.
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book November 20, 2005
Format:Paperback
I'm glad this book has been re-published so people can read it. This is a book that until now have been very hard to obtain. For years this book was the unofficial handbook for the PR industry. It is important to read and understand the contents of this book to understand the history of PR. The book gives a foundation to understand the fine art of "control of the public mind" that we see today. This book can perhaps throw some light on the techniques used in present history concerning among other the "War on Terror". I will also recommend "Crystallizing Public Opinion" by the same author (if you can find it) and "Public Opinion" by Walter Lippmann.

As already stated in a review, the 5-star rating is primarily for the value (and importance) of this book.
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140 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the title - he ISN'T joking August 12, 2006
By PJ
Format:Paperback
In a piece of amazingly brazen subterfuge, Bernays gives his book a title - "Propaganda" - which doesn't tell you what the book is ABOUT so much as what the book IS.

That is to say, as Mark Crispin Miller points out in the Introduction, the true nature of this book is to act as propaganda for propaganda. To get the full message on how to carry out propaganda you have to watch what Bernays is actually DOING. If all you take from the book is what Bernays says overtly about how to mount a propaganda campaign you will have missed the whole point of the book.

Bernay's central message is, in effect, "Never openly admit what propaganda is." And to this end he carefully confuses and conflates propaganda, PR and straightforward advertising. Indeed, although he uses the term "propagandist" a number of times in the book, he usually referred to himself as a "personal relations counsel".

As an example of how this confusion technique is used in this book, Bernays makes the perfectly reasonable claim that manufacturers need to use advertising to bring their products to the notice of the general public, but manages to blur the distinction between advertising and propaganda so as to make it seem that it is propaganda which is a perfectly natural process in a well-organized society.

First of all he sets us up by a series of seemingly reasonable but actually quite ludicrous statements (page 39 - it's a long Introduction):

"In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would be hopelessly jammed."

[Yes it would, but don't we actually test many things in a less exhaustive way every time we go shopping?
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sheeple February 15, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is about manipulating people. It is written from a Ranchers point of view with the majority of us, his herd. He can't force you (at least in a civil society) to drink but he can secretly salt your oats. I was disappointed to learn that a heary breakfast is a contrived idea since breakfast is my favorite meal.

Now that I know some propaganda techniques, I will have an ever growing suspicion of ads, speeches, even photos and videos of the news. It reminds me of learning to play a musical instrument. I no longer listen to the music; I analyze it, deconstruct it and map it...I do everything but enjoy it.

A fascinating and somewhat sad read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars propaganda
it is ok somewhat dated perhaps but still a good read.
Published 2 days ago by RICHARD SCHEIBERLE
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for the field of propaganda
Some people give this book mixed reviews, but I believe it's content is relevant still today. Understanding the historical context of propaganda is essential. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Nathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
What's stunning show much peace time propaganda goes on today. It's hard to know what is true and what is manipulation. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Javabob
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Hated this class
Published 13 days ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars and is important if you want to understand the 20th century better. A...
This book will open your eyes, and is important if you want to understand the 20th century better. A must read for history buffs because many of these topics are not covered in HS... Read more
Published 14 days ago by N. Hartman
2.0 out of 5 stars More aggravating than informative
Entire book seems like propaganda to accept his point of view. However, opinion is mixed with fact, and makes for a spurious argument. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Doug Kaye
3.0 out of 5 stars What makes this diatribe interesting is that Bernays writes about how...
The first half of the book is all about propaganda according to Bernays. He was the mastermind behind public relations. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Patricia Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars An early classic that sees propaganda as a positive force rather than...
A classic in the field; essential for any study of propaganda, despite some of the cringe-producing positions that Bernays held.
Published 1 month ago by MJS
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring. An enumeration of common knowledge
Boring. An enumeration of common knowledge, nothing to learn after the introduction. A good reminder of our animal like lack off consciousness.
Published 1 month ago by Michel
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read Especially for U.S. Citizens.
Foundational for understanding media in the U.S.
Published 1 month ago by Frank Snapp
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