We Think It's Time You Learn About the Best Books on Propaganda

books about propaganda, books

Time to read a little about propaganda.

Books About Propaganda

Have you ever heard the phrase Big Brother is watching? It comes from George Orwell's 1984, which is a fiction book that deals with propaganda in the made-up world of Oceania. The reality show Big Brother takes its name from this phrase.

The propaganda books we're going to talk about and recommend in the article are all nonfiction, but it's nice to have something familiar as a starting point. Most of us have probably heard of propaganda, but what is it? Encyclopedia Britannica describes propaganda as information given to the public with the purpose of influencing or manipulating their opinion or emotions. It could be a half-truth, a blatant lie, a rumor, an opinion, or using loaded language to get an emotional reaction, and is a common tactic in politics

Each of the six books on propaganda in this article bring something interesting to the table. Whether it's historical information on propaganda and how it was used during wartimes or how propaganda influenced the 2016 election, it's all definitely worth a read!

1. Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky


First published in 1995, Noam Chomsky's Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, delves into the use of propaganda during times of war. He attests there are two different forms of democracy: one that the public participates in, and one that the public is manipulated and controlled. Some of Chomsky's examples include the Creel Commission created during WWI by Woodrow Wilson, which "succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population" and George H.W. Bush's war in Iraq. In both instances, propaganda was used to create public support for going to war.

A particularly powerful line from the book says, "propaganda is to democracy as the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."

Buy Media Control here.

2. How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley


In How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley posits that living today often don't think propaganda and manipulation are the problems they once were during the World Wars and totalitarians states of the mid-twentieth century. However, the way political campaigns are run, lobbyists, the media, and the very language used all influence how people think about public issues.

Stanley provides a historic intro to democratic political theory and how the misuse of it is utilized to create propaganda. Using historical examples, he demonstrates how we got here, to a time when propaganda is thought to be nonexistent and yet subtly works its magic to warp public opinion.

Get How Propaganda Works here.

3. Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts


Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts analyzes the connection between social media, propaganda, and American politics. Their analysis of the influence of the use of social media on public opinion is the most comprehensive to date, looking at millions of shares on Facebook and Twitter that cover topics such as immigration, the Trump Russia investigation, and the Clinton scandals.

The drastic way America politics utilized technology came in the 1970s to create a "feedback loop in American conservative media." As a result, it made conservatives susceptible to propaganda because of the "fundamentally different" way right-wing media operates. To find out how they reach that conclusion, you'll have to read the book!

Purchase Network Propaganda on Amazon or read it for free or download the PDF version at Oxford Scholarship Online.

4. Art and Propaganda in the Twentieth Century by Toby Clark


Propaganda is far from just the media telling you what to think. It can be almost anything, including art as Toby Clark's 1997 book, Art and Propaganda in the Twentieth Century, talks about. The propaganda art covered in the book encompasses the globe, covering everything from 1960s protest art to art in modern Africa.

The book gets into the propaganda art used by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Fascist Italy, along with the art used in the United States to lure everyone into the war effort. He also talks about how representation of enemies were problematic and often racist, while making it seem a great honor to die for the war.

One of the most interesting parts of Clark's books is art that counters propaganda art -which includes radical, pacifist, anti-colonial, and animist art - may in itself fall under the "rubric of propaganda.

Get Art and Propaganda in the Twentieth Century here.

5. Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson


Researching both the history of propaganda and contemporary social psychology, Anthony Pratkinis and Elliot Aronson's Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion paint a scary picture of just how widespread the use of propaganda is, especially considering at least half the hourse we're awake each day we're immersed in mass media.

They argue that persuasion has always been part of the democratic process, but "increasingly, thoughtful discussion is being replaced with simplistic soundbites and manipulative messages." Sure, politicians use propaganda, but who else? Others include sales agents, televangelists, advertisers, and anyone else willing to manipulate people through fear and hope.

Find Age of Propaganda here.

6. Why Are We The Good Guys?: Reclaiming Your Mind From The Delusions Of Propaganda by David Cromwell


The Western world believes we "are the great defenders of human rights, a free press, and the benefits of market economics." We admit that sometimes mistakes are made while doing what be believe to be right, but the West does is for the greater good. David Cromwell's Why Are We the Good Guys?: Reclaiming Your Mind From the Delusions of Propaganda turns that ideology on its head, question the myth of Western benevolence.

Buy Why Are We the Good Guys? here.

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