Beware the British Serpent: The Role of Writers in British Propaganda in the United States, 1939-1945

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Robert Calder demonstrates that Britain's well-organized propaganda campaign to persuade the United States to enter World War I had left isolationist and anglophobic Americans highly suspicious of anything that hinted of manipulation. Any effort to influence American public opinion during World War II had therefore to be carefully and subtly undertaken and the British government soon realized that well-known authors - employed officially or semi-officially - were ideal for the task. Respected for the power of their pens, they were especially suited to reminding Americans of their strongest links with Britain - a common language and a shared cultural heritage of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, and others. As well, their profession had often led them to tour, speak, write, and live in America and, because they could undertake propaganda work without being on the payroll of the British government, they were not identifiable as paid foreign agents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780773526884
  • Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Yanks aren't coming : American isolationism 3
2 The strangling old school tie : anglophobia in the United States 21
3 The magic of the word : mobilizing authors for war 39
4 Making the war seem personal : British authors in the United States 56
5 Uncoordinated observations : Noel Coward and H. G. Wells 89
6 One God-damned thing after another : W. Somerset Maugham 116
7 A sad story of official duplicity : Cecil Roberts 134
8 Unheralded ambassadors from England : British non-fiction propaganda 151
9 Thrilling and dramatic fiction : British propaganda in fiction and poetry 181
10 A friendly intruder in a non-belligerent world : writers in British radio propaganda 205
11 The most gigantic engines of propaganda : British writers and film propaganda 239
Conclusion 259
Notes 263
Bibliography 289
Index 301
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