Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq
"This is a stunning book which blows away all the myths about why America goes to war. American fights, the author demonstrates, to remake the world in its own image, for power and for markets. Its propaganda, 'as American as apple pie,' has historically sought to disguise this."--Phillip Knightley, author of The First Casualty
"Marshalling compelling evidence, Susan Brewer documents the rhetorical strategies by which the U.S. government, often with the complicity of the media and key opinion-molding groups, has mobilized popular support for every major U.S. conflict from the Spanish-American war to the invasion of Iraq. Well written and deeply researched, this timely work should be read by all those concerned with issues of war and peace and with how propaganda can coarsen and debase civic discourse on vital public issues."--Paul Boyer, editor of The Oxford Companion to United States History
"Susan Brewer's lively account of wartime propaganda from 1898 to the war in Iraq, Why America Fights, could well be sub-titled, Why America Is Still Fighting. May its account of the mobilization of patriotism for dubious purposes serve as a prophylactic for the future."--Marilyn Young, New York University
"Susan Brewer writes that U.S. war propaganda since the dawn of the twentieth century has been both necessary and misleading. Judiciously argued and well researched, this engaging narrative examines the claims that policymakers advanced in their speeches, newspapers, radio programs, and films to sell America's wars. Brewer's provocative book deserves a wide readership from Americans who so often wonder how their lofty goals in war can end in disillusionment."--Emily S. Rosenberg, author of A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory
On the evening of September 11, 2002, with the Statue of Liberty shimmering in the background, television cameras captured President George W. Bush as he advocated war against Iraq. This carefully stage-managed performance, writes Susan A. Brewer, was the culmination of a long tradition of sophisticated wartime propaganda in America.
In Why America Fights, Brewer offers a fascinating history of how successive presidents have conducted what Donald Rumsfeld calls "perception management," from McKinley's war in the Philippines to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Brewer's intriguing account ranges from analyses of wartime messages to descriptions of the actual operations, from the dissemination of patriotic ads and posters to the management of newspaper, radio, and TV media. When Woodrow Wilson took the nation into World War I, he created the Committee on Public Information, led by George Creel, who called his job "the world's greatest adventure in advertising." In World War II, Roosevelt's Office of War Information avowed a "strategy of truth," though government propaganda still depicted Japanese soldiers as buck-toothed savages. In the Korean War, the Truman administration delineated differences between "good" and "evil" Asians, while portraying the conflict as a global battle between the Free World and Communism. After examining the ultimately failed struggle to cast the Vietnam War in a favorable light, Brewer shows how the Bush White House drew explicit lessons from that history as it engaged in an unprecedented effort to sell a preemptive war in Iraq. Yet the thrust of its message was not much different from McKinley's pronouncements about America's civilizing mission.
Impressively researched and argued, filled with surprising details, Why America Fights shows how presidents consistently have drummed up support for foreign wars by appealing to what Americans want to believe about themselves.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (June 2009)
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Sep 08, 2009, 12:16:22
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