Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain: The National War Aims Committee and Civilian Morale

Overview

The story of propaganda and patriotism in First World War Britain too often focuses on the clichés of Kitchener, 'over by Christmas' and the deaths of patriotic young volunteers at the Somme and elsewhere. A common assumption is that familiar forms of patriotism did not survive the war. However, the activities of the National War Aims Committee in 1917-18 suggest that propaganda and patriotism remained vigorous in Britain in the last years of the war. The NWAC, a semi-official Parliamentary organisation ...

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Overview

The story of propaganda and patriotism in First World War Britain too often focuses on the clichés of Kitchener, 'over by Christmas' and the deaths of patriotic young volunteers at the Somme and elsewhere. A common assumption is that familiar forms of patriotism did not survive the war. However, the activities of the National War Aims Committee in 1917-18 suggest that propaganda and patriotism remained vigorous in Britain in the last years of the war. The NWAC, a semi-official Parliamentary organisation responsible for propaganda to counteract civilian war-weariness, produced masses of propaganda material aimed at re-stimulating civilian patriotism and yet remains largely unknown and rarely discussed. This book provides the first detailed study of the NWAC's activities, propaganda and reception. It demonstrates the significant role played by the NWAC in British society after July 1917, illuminating the local network of agents and committees which conducted its operations and the party political motivations behind these. At the core of the book is a comprehensive analysis of the Committee's propaganda. NWAC propaganda contained an underlying patriotic narrative which re-presented many familiar pre-war patriotic themes in ways that sought to encompass the experiences of civilians worn down by years of total war. By interpreting propaganda through the purposes it served, rather than the quantity of discussion of particular aspects, the book rejects common and reductive interpretations which depict propaganda as being mainly about the vilification of enemies. Through this analysis, the book makes a wider plea for deeper attention to the purposes behind patriotic language.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The most radical element in this book is its emphasis on the continuity of national cohesion and consciousness in early 20th-century Britain."—ITimes Higher Education

"Monger has been able to shed important light on a crucial propaganda organisation, existing during the last months of the war when the maintenance of morale had become so important, and successfully presents this in a fashion that would interest anyone concerned with the employment of propaganda in the early part of the 20th century."—IReviews in History

"Impressively detailed, this book is a major, original and illuminating contribution to the scholarship of propaganda."—Dr Adrian Gregory, University of Oxford

"Monger has written an important book. The NWAC has lacked a balanced treatment. Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain is a definitive study of the NWAC organization and the content of its propaganda."—Twentieth Century British History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781380130
  • Publisher: Liverpool University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr David Monger is Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

List of figures and tables
List of abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Part 1: The National War Aims Committee
1: The development of wartime propaganda and the emergence of the NWAC
2: The NWAC at work
3: Local agency, local work: the role of constituency War Aims Committees
Part 2: Patriotism for a purpose: NWAC propaganda
4: Presentational patriotisms
5: Adversaries at home and abroad: the context of negative difference
6: Civilisational principles: Britain and its allies as the guardians of civilisation
7: Patriotisms of duty: sacrifice, obligation and community the narrative core of NWAC propaganda
8: Promises for the future: the encouragement of aspirations for a better life, nation and world
Part 3: The impact of the NWAC
9: A premium on corruption? Parliamentary, pressure group and national press responses
10:Individual and local reactions to the NWAC
Conclusion
Appendices
Bibliography
Index

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