University of Leicester eBulletin

'America is Greatest Propagandist in History of the World' Claims New Study

September 2003

New research into propaganda, mass persuasion and the culture of spin authored by academics from the universities of Leicester, Kent and Louisiana describes the US as 'a country owing its origins to propaganda.'

The 479-page study examining the history of propaganda over the past 500 years features 250 entries, including the 'news management' techniques under Tony Blair.
It has been compiled by:

Professor Nicholas Cull, Professor of American Studies at the University of Leicester and Director of the Centre for American Studies at the University and an expert on the history of propaganda in British and US foreign policy.

Professor David Culbert, Professor of History at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, one the USA's best known historians of film, radio and television.

Professor David Welch, Professor of Modern History and Director of the Centre for the Study of Propaganda at the University of Kent, Canterbury and one of the UK's best-known authorities on Nazi Germany.

In its entry on the United States, the volume states: "The US would not have come into being without propaganda, nor would its society exist as currently constituted.

"Yet the average American continues to take comfort in the notion that propaganda is something one associates with Nazi Germany, neatly distinguishing between propaganda and advertising and defining the latter as dealing with information or persuasion and the former as a form of deception.

"Collective amnesia is too strong a way to characterise this curious state of affairs, but its seems to take some doing to live in a society that is the world's greatest consumer of propaganda while at the same time convincing oneself this is not so."

The book also awards the US the dubious accolade of being 'the largest disseminator of propaganda and persuasion in history.'

The study looks at the role of propaganda in the War on Terrorism, arguing that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were in themselves a form of propaganda by direct action: "The terrorists selected their targets with an eye to their symbolic value and cultural resonance." 

The researchers claim that propaganda 'gaffes' were committed by the US early on the campaign by referring to the action as a 'crusade' which had negative historical echoes in the Islamic world and then by describing the campaign as 'Eternal Justice' - realms believed by Muslims to be the monopoly of God.

The research has been published in the form of an encyclopaedia including geographic entries examining propaganda in a country or region. There are case-study entries on events and movements from abortion to Zionism. Film and media propaganda is explored and profiles of individuals include Osama Bin Laden, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair.
Contributors, in addition to the three editors, include propaganda experts from Israel, India, Germany, Canada, Italy, and New Zealand, as well as a clutch of British and American propaganda experts with regional specialities.

Leicester contributors also include Daniel Cooper, Dina Iordinova, Samantha Jones, Bryan Mann and Elizabeth Tacey. Help was also provided by Stuart Ball, Phillip Lindley and Aubrey Newman.

Propaganda and Mass Persuasion, A Historical Encyclopaedia, 1500 to the Present , is published by ABC-CLIO.

Note to newsdesk: 

For more information contact:

Professor Nick Cull, 0116-252-2861 or

Professor David Culbert,

Professor David Welch, 01227-764000 ext 3472 or

For the publisher, contact: 
Courtney Russell
Public Relations Coordinator
130 Cremona Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
Phone: (800) 368-6868 x 347
Fax: (805) 685-9685

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Last updated: September 2003
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