Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign against American Neutrality in World War II
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British propaganda was subtle, and wisely so. For Britain to have done less than it did, writes Cull, would have been disastrous, for its citizens needed all the help they could muster. Yet had the propaganda been more heavy-handed or peaked earlier, it would have provided additional ammunition to already suspicious anti-interventionists.
The battle to win American sympathies was not entirely uphill, for Americans had long detested Nazism and, from the outset of the war, were horrified by accounts of Nazi occupation, particularly in Poland. The bombing of British cities also shocked Americans, making the word Blitz a household term.
In the British propaganda effort, Cull shows, American foreign correspondents played a crucial role, as the British wisely cultivated a working relationship with the American press. The British manipulated specific instances of bomb damage, for example, by releasing in the United States photos deemed too gruesome to be shown at home.
Murrow was so effective in conveying what the British were undergoing that Churchill offered him the post of codirector general of the BBC. Knowing how important movies were to the American public, the British quickly established a beachhead in Hollywood. Also stationed in America were classicist Gilbert Highet and philosophers A. Ayer and Isaiah Berlin. British Propaganda and the Blitz. British Propaganda and American Aid.
Friends Enemies and the Supply Crisis. The Road to Pearl Harbor August. Foreign Policy to The increasingly tense European diplomatic situation in , culminating in the German invasion of Poland on September 1, , and the British and French declarations of war on Germany on September 3, led the British government to attempt to repeat its World War I strategy. America had to be brought into the new war, and propaganda was a vital weapon in this task.
This British propaganda campaign is described in careful detail by Nicholas John Cull; his book, based on extensive archival research and personal interviews, is a major contribution. The British faced a formidable obstacle in their attempt to draw the United States into the war. During the s, most Americans came to believe that United States entry into the First World War had been a disaster.
Selling War - Nicholas John Cull - Oxford University Press
The historical revisionists, such as Sidney Fay and Harry Elmer Barnes, challenged the official accounts of the war by "court historians. Cull emphasizes Walter Millis's study Road to War in this connection. Millis's "findings sparked a surge of anglophobia and paranoia" p. This time, the opponents of war were prepared for the British campaign, making their task all the more difficult. Isolationists, including Senators Nye and Borah and the great aviator Charles Lindbergh, did not hesitate to warn of British wiles.
Here, Cull might have made more use of an important book published in Cull does mention the work in question.
The British Propaganda Campaign against American "Neutrality" in World War II
Borah and Gerald P. Nye seized on a British study titled Propaganda in the Next War , by British public relations expert Sidney Rogerson, as evidence of 'a basic plan to involve us in the next war'" p. Unfortunately, though, Cull does not discuss the book's contents. It suggested that America might be drawn into a future European war by the "back door" of a conflict in the Far East. Surely this was a detail worth mentioning, at least as important as Lord Halifax's distaste for hotdogs p. Before , British propaganda was according to our author not very effective: Cull attaches much of the blame for this state of affairs on the government of Neville Chamberlain, of whom he is decidedly no admirer.
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