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Crystallizing Public Opinion

4.4 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1417915088
ISBN-10: 1417915080
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Pub Co (October 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417915080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417915088
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,506,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Ernst on September 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
For those who appreciate Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, Edward Bernays' 'Crystallizing Public Opinion' will have a similar impact: Concise Guidance and lucid - if due to the original publication in 1923 - somewhat dated examples make for encompassing reading. It is fascinating that most of the literature on PR which has appeared since does not surpass the insights Bernays expounded so long ago.

Bernays thinking has two pillars. First, he recognizes that "the public, ...due to the spread of literacy and democratic forms of government (feels) that it is entitled to its voice in the conduct of these large aggregations, political, capitalist, or labor, or whatever they may be" (p.66). Therefore, any organization in society, no matter if it is a political entity, a company or a non-profit organization is looked at as some sort of public service. To succeed they will have to recognize this demand and communicate, accordingly.

Second, Bernays regards the "average citizen (as) the world's most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own 'logical proof compartments', his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction" (p. 133).

This leads him to conclude that PR is of no use unless it has something to say which the public, consciously or unconsciously, expects to hear. PR is thus not primarily about authenticity or believability, as many current observers put it, PR is merely a communications effort which functions as a catalyst of change if it resonates with the public.
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Edward Bernays' greatest work-Crystallizing Public Opinion was a book I waited a long time to be able to read, and I regret not a moment of that wait. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how ideas are spread, why they are spread, and why ideas-for better or worse, thrive or die out. What seemed at first like an added bonus turned out to be fundamental to his method-an explanation of the creation of and necessity of stereotypes in a world that is only getting more complex. He seemed to speak of things decades ahead of his time, which could only stare with a dropped jaw at the complexity we see today. Bernays accounted for this increasing complexity and this becomes very evident the more and more you read this book.

However, a flaw of Bernays' character is his arrogance, which will show in his subtle, but frequent self-elevation via his achievements up to that point. It is important to recognize that Bernays did not come from an average Joe type of background-and his view of you and I is perhaps not as flattering as we would like it to be. Despite this, "Crystallizing Public Opinion" is a book that you must read, if only to see how average Joes are really viewed by those in power. The answer may surprise you.
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Format: Paperback
The introduction in this version of the book by Stuart Ewen is excellent. It describes his visit to Bernays' home just before his death. Don't skip it.

"Reality is what we tell the public it is." "The duty of the higher strata of society ... is to inject moral and spiritual motives into public opinion." "The only difference between 'propaganda' and 'education' is in the point of view [of the advocate]." "The established order of things is maintained by the inertia of the group ... factors make it possible for the public relations counsel to overcome even this inertia."

We are all driven by the herd instinct, and this book describes a new profession (in 1923) dedicated to guiding that herd. It can be used for launching new products, or for sustaining the Nazi regime. For example, the protestant church in Germany was enlisted in the efforts to purge mention of Jews from the Bible (though they had a problem with St. Paul).

This book is disturbing, original and should be obligatory for every citizen in a modern democracy. We're all being manipulated and there's no escape. The correct answer is humility and open mindedness in our relations with others. But that just makes me an idealist. The actual answer is to take the tools of this profession to promote our own agendas.
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Format: Paperback
The information contained on the pages of this edition must be filtered through the reader's knowledge of the English language, grammar and common sense. In short the publisher did a lousy job of re-typing the original. It is obvious that it was not proof read.

I looked for a copy of the original and found a photocopy version - because the quality of the type was degraded, I opted for this version and turned into a game, the replacement of mistyped words with words I assumed made better sense. Examples, "sand=and," "public relations counted=public relations counsel," and "word=world." It does spice things up a bit!

According to Bernays I have taken the liberty, which I believe to be my right to comment on a commercial enterprise. Shame on Ig Publishing.
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This is a great book to read if you want to gain an understanding of how the government uses mind control to control our every movement. The trick is to make the people think they have a choice... it's scary what this world has become. This book was written a long time ago, and now you can see so much of these evil tactics unfold.
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