- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 10, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393353648
- ISBN-13: 978-0393353648
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#464,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #102 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > Media & Internet
- #116 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Propaganda & Political Psychology
- #546 in Books > Textbooks > Communication & Journalism > Media Studies
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Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency 1st Edition
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“Greenberg is a terrific storyteller. . . . An education and an engrossing read.”
- Christopher Buckley, National Interest
- Michael Beschloss, New York Times Book Review
“Greenberg neatly weaves a history of public relations into his political tale.”
- H. W. Brands, Washington Post
“This essential book is going to wind up on every politico’s shelf.”
- Matthew Cooper, Washingtonian
“In Republic of Spin, David Greenberg opens a new and revealing window on the modern American presidency by showing how the effort to manipulate public opinion has long been a central obsession in the Oval Office. Vivid characters, some very famous and some obscure, bring this important story to life and enlighten us about what presidents can and cannot accomplish.”
- Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine
“Anyone wishing to understand how our politics evolved from the era of Teddy Roosevelt’s bully pulpit to the exquisitely calibrated constructions of today’s publicists, pollsters, speechwriters, and snakes needs to read Republic of Spin. David Greenberg’s book is everything that a political history should be―vivid, comprehensive, and important.”
- Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
“An utterly engrossing and deeply authoritative examination of spin and the American presidency―its origins, its vital role over the past century, its enduring importance. Greenberg’s elegant narrative brings this history vividly alive, as he weaves individual lives and broader societal forces into a major reassessment of modern American political culture. Spin has always been a part of politics, and it always will be; read this gem of a book to find out why that is, and what it means for our democracy.”
- Fredrik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Embers of War
About the Author
David Greenberg is a historian of American politics and a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. He is the author of the prize-winning Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image, among other books. Currently a columnist for Politico, he has been an editor at Slate and the New Republic and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other popular and scholarly publications. He lives with his family in New York City.
Top customer reviews
The book concludes with a brief discussion of whether or not spin is a good thing: "Large-scale deception, perpetrated without countervailing arguments, could erode the standards by which we establish truth and falsehood and undermine democracy. But politics would be sterile if it didn't allow a wide berth for claims that were partial, rhetorical, aligned with particular visions and interests, or less than fully truthful by philosophical standards."
And what of the media in society? Could it empower the lowest common denominator and institute the “tyranny of the majority” through demagoguery? Is it even possible to be objective?, since no single person can know all (even reasonable) points of view on a major issue. Starting at a certain level of abstraction, is truth simply a matter of spin and bias? And when the media has what one regards as biased reporting – is it due to an honest bias?, or does it come from the dictates of the outlet owner on which positions their writers should be hired for or favor?
Given the role of the internet in articulately advancing so many opinions at odds with each other – in the future will it be possible to even produce consensus about anything meaningful?
I have previous purchased and tried to make my way through several books featuring Edward Bernays (Propaganda, Crystallizing Public Opinion, The Father of Spin). Past the first few chapters of nicely summarized insight I found them to become so full of routine minutia and pontification that they lost my interest.
“The Republic of Spin” traces the role of the media (newspapers, radio, TV), starting with Teddy Roosevelt’s administration. The vast majority of the book held me spellbound, with well thought out prose - ways of explaining and summing up. Only towards the end with the George W Bush and Obama administrations did it (sort of) start skimming and falling short of other books (like Frank Rich’s “The Great Story Ever Sold”) . A frank analysis of what is termed “political correctness” - in light of statistics on social pathology (our present day elephant in the room, our third rail of politics) is also missing. None-the-less, this book presents a culled set of history that’s hard to find summarized anywhere else. Five stars.
Over time, the spin aspect of a presidency became more sophisticated and the use of media more fine grained. By the early 20th century, presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and others became adept at getting their word out. And--over time--practitioners became more skilled. FDR, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush (2), and Obama. Polls became more scientific and were used to assess public opinion and suggest ways of speaking to the public's concerns.
This is a well written work, accessible to readers, and addressing an issue of some importance.