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Propaganda in the Classroom

A Propaganda Bibliography

If you want a look into the workings of propaganda in daily life, and how best to teach about it, you must not miss the work of Jeffrey Schrank.  The books he wrote in the 1970s are as useful today as when they were first published.  His more recent video work is available through his LearningSeed.com website.  For his current thinking about advertising and propaganda issues, look through his video catalog; especially the Communication Skills, Marketing and Persuasion, and Money and Consumer Skills sections.  Take special note of:

WHY YOU BUY: ADVERTISING IN THE 21st CENTURY

BLIND SPOTS AND BIASES: HIDDEN FORCES THAT SHAPE YOUR DECISIONS

PERCEPTION: THE ART OF SEEING

PERSUASION IN EVERYDAY LIFE

HOW CONSUMERS DECIDE

While his books are no longer in print, they can still be found in libraries and through used book sources.  Take some time to track them down.  You won't be sorry.  I especially recommend Snap, Crackle and Popular Taste: The Illusion of Free Choice in America (Dell 1977), and Deception Detection: An Educator's Guide to the Art of Insight (Beacon Press, 1975).  If you want to sample his writing, take a look at his widely reprinted essay, The Language of Advertising Claims.

Jeff has posted two terrific slideshare presentations:

This slender book is an absolutely superb overview of the techniques used by political and commercial propagandists; as well as a guide to how one may deal with them so as to avoid manipulation.

FactCheckEd.org (the authors' web site for teachers and students) is also worth the time you'll spend examining it.

read an excerpt from the book

read an excerpt from the book

Rushkoff also served as the corresondent for the 2001 Frontline documentary, The Merchants of Cool.  The program transcript is available online.  To read it, click here.

More recently he served as the correspondent for the 2004 Frontline documentary, The Persuaders.  Its transcript is also available online.  To read it, click here.

read an excerpt from the book

read the PR Watch page devoted to this book

read the PR Watch page devoted to this book

read the PR Watch page devoted to this book

read reviews of the book

read an excerpt from the book

for more on propaganda in the US war on Iraq, see this classroomtools.com page

This book is a sequel to Weapons of Mass Deception. In the window that will open when you click on the new book's title, you'll be able to read an excerpt and watch a riveting video.

Norman Solomon's documentary film and book examine the propaganda used by U.S. politicians and news media to create popular support for the initiation and continuance of wars from Vietnam to those in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. You may also be interested in What is Propaganda?, a PDF slide show I created to use as an introduction to War Made Easy.

read an excerpt from the book

the paperback edition is titled Can't Buy My Love

Long Island Social Studies teacher Howard Blue has written the story of U.S. radio propaganda in the 1940s.  It "describes how seventeen radio dramatists and their actors fought a war of words against fascism abroad and injustice at home."  On his web site, Blue has provided an example of one of the government propaganda plays broadcast during the war.  Mass Murder is from the series You Can't Do Business With Hitler, one of the series discussed in Words at War.

First published in 1961, this book remains the best description of the extent to which, and how, public relations rose to dominate American public and commercial life.

Read Chapter 1 online

Read Martin Mayer's review from the New York Times, April 8, 1962

read an excerpt from the book

read an excerpt from the book

While not specifically focused on propaganda, this book explores the consequences when individuals fail to perform their responsibility to critically evaluate information in their environments.  Postman begins by examining the opposite futures explored by George Orwell (in 1984) and Aldous Huxley (in Brave New World), then stating, "This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right." The introduction to Postman's book has been adapted to various new media. This link is to a YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMZejVltDDs Here, Stuart McMillen presents it in cartoon form: http://www.recombinantrecords.net/docs/2009-05-Amusing-Ourselves-to-Death.html

read an excerpt from the book

Most famously, 1984

This link displays Amazon.com's current list of Orwell's works

Golden Oldies

The books listed below are no longer in print, but can be found in libraries and from used book sources.  They should not be missed.

This book is a masterpiece.  Through it, you and your students will explore the psychological tendencies that propagandists exploit as they develop a mass consensus for war.  As the media, government and public responses to the horrendous attacks of September 11, 2001 show, Keen's arguments are as timely as the day he penned them.  If nothing else, the 20th century posters and editorial cartoons examined are worth the price of admission.  You can see some of them on the Faces of the Enemy page.  Also, the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary based on the book is available on videotape from the Social Studies School Service.

read an excerpt from this book (click on the First Chapter Excerpts link under Item Information after the page opens in a new window)

read the transcript of an interview with Lutz about doublespeak

read an excerpt from this book

read the transcript of an interview with Larry Tye about this book

read Malcolm Gladwell's article on Bernays and PR

read the PR Watch review

Parts One and Two of the BBC documentary series the Century of the Self tell the story of Bernays and his role in the development of 20th century propaganda in the United States.  Reviews of the series can be found at http://www.tagg.org/rants/selfcent.html.

read an excerpt from the book


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original web posting: Wednesday, October 24, 2001
last modified: Sunday, June 30, 2013