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War and Television

Overview

This work studies television reporting of the US at war since World War II, including detailed coverage of television‘s role in the Gulf. Cumings offers insights into the everyday operations of the media and assesses the possibilities of mobilizing them for political purposes. At the centre of this volume is the tale of Cumings‘ own experience as expert consultant to a Thames Television production—Korea: The Unknown War. The book also features film reviews, anecdotes and several invectives against an array of ...
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Overview

This work studies television reporting of the US at war since World War II, including detailed coverage of television‘s role in the Gulf. Cumings offers insights into the everyday operations of the media and assesses the possibilities of mobilizing them for political purposes. At the centre of this volume is the tale of Cumings‘ own experience as expert consultant to a Thames Television production—Korea: The Unknown War. The book also features film reviews, anecdotes and several invectives against an array of media executives, retired soldiers and bureaucrats.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An eloquent critique, from a politically progressive perspective, not only of TV’s coverage of war but also its treatment of topical and historical events ... Cummings shows strikingly how a type of consensus evolves about America’s role in wars. ... [He] argues convincingly that the purported ‘objectivity’ of the camera is an illusion, and that TV is a medium that makes points and takes sides despite its supposed impartial coverage of news events. A provocative and intelligent analysis.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Bruce Cummings has produced penetrating studies of US strategy and planning, along with the standard works of the Korean War. His unique combination of understanding scholarship and personal experience lends unusual significance to his reflections on the media portrayal of war.”—Noam Chomsky

“Cummings’ writing is lively, clearly and engaging ... this book should be of value to scholars, students, and anyone who needs to understand how to an unpopular message into the media.”—Third World Resources

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cumings ( The Origins of the Korean War ) gets a good deal off his chest in this long-winded, rambling meditation on what he sees as television's distorted reporting of America's last three major wars. His text is heavy with ad hominem attacks that seem irrelevant to his theme: P. J. O'Rourke is guilty of ``stinking racism''; Patrick Buchanan and Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine are ``schoolyard bullies with brains to match''; and Ronald Reagan is, predictably, ``an empty man.'' The author even finds time to ridicule the easy (not to mention passe) target of Deborah Norville. Cumings, a professor of Asian and international history at the University of Chicago, served as a consultant for the Thames Television/PBS series Korea: The Unknown War , and here he complains at tedious length that the producers didn't follow his expert advice. The only chapter worth reading is an account of Cumings's trip to North Korea to interview citizens about the 1950-53 war, of particular interest for his tolerant view of that brutally repressive state. Illustrations. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780860916826
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 5/17/1994
  • Series: Haymarket Ser.
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.77 (h) x 0.95 (d)

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  • Posted August 14, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Fascinating study of the media's portrayal of war, especially the Korean War

    This is a fascinating study of the media portrayal of war, in particular, of the Korean War. Bruce Cumings is Professor of East Asian and International History at the University of Chicago and author of the best book on the Korean War, the two-volume Origins of the Korean War. He argues that the supposed ‘objectivity’ of the camera is a myth, and that television is a medium that necessarily makes points and takes sides, whatever its claims to impartial coverage of news events. Cumings tells the story of the production of the Thames Television/Public Broadcasting System series, Korea: the unknown war, for which he was the main historical consultant. He notes, “Then there was John Burton, mild-mannered professor of Political Science at George Mason University, who had been the very young head of the Australian Foreign Office in 1950. He told us of telegrams coming from South Korea to the Foreign Office just before the war broke out, reporting South Korea patrols crossing the border, trying to provoke the North Koreans. Dr Burton took these straight to the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, ‘and we sent a very strongly worded telegram to the State Department’, asking them to curb South Korea adventurism. Before a reply came back from Washington, the war began. … Thereafter the telegrams, according to Dr Burton, disappeared from Australian Foreign Office files.” Cumings confirms, “in the British Foreign Office records, … you’ll find a cable, nicely preserved, saying that the Americans were trying to restrain hot-headed South Korea officers along the parallel, a few weeks before June 25.” The South sought to invade the North. Cumings points out that “the southern army had sought to occupy it [Haeju] more than a year earlier [i.e. in 1949], attacking across the parallel from Ongjin.” Cumings writes of “three years of genocidal bombing by the US Air Force which killed perhaps two million civilians (one-quarter of the population), dropped oceans of napalm, left barely a modern building standing, opened large dams to flood nearby rice valleys and kill thousands of peasants by denying them food, and went far beyond anything done in Vietnam in a conscious program of using air power to destroy a society …” He rightly calls it “one of the most appalling, unrestrained, genocidal bombing campaigns in our genocidal twentieth century …”

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