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Propaganda Paperback – September 1, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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 There's nothing really controversial here, since this is basically a historical document that still holds up after decades.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.
As already stated in a review, the 5-star rating is primarily for the value (and importance) of this book.
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.
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's quite interesting to go back nearly a century and see with clarity how our worldviews have been shaped.Published 16 hours ago by Wesley S.
Great book to understand how (unfortunately) life works and how to manipulate people through suggestion, so the only person you can blame is not the person pushing the propaganda,... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Another Customer
Fascinating and honest perspective into the practice of Propaganda. Required read.Published 1 month ago by Robert Z.
Got this book as a birthday present. It is an interesting republishing of a book that explains the origins and purposes of the the word propaganda. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RCelano