ISBN-10:
0674028244
ISBN-13:
9780674028241
Pub. Date:
05/30/2008
Publisher:
Harvard
Woodrow Wilson and the American Myth in Italy: Culture, Diplomacy, and War Propaganda

Woodrow Wilson and the American Myth in Italy: Culture, Diplomacy, and War Propaganda

by Daniela Rossini, Antony ShugaarDaniela Rossini

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Overview

In 1918, Woodrow Wilson’s image as leader of the free world and the image of America as dispenser of democracy spread throughout Italy, filling an ideological void after the rout of Caporetto and diverting attention from a hapless ruling class. Wilson’s popularity depended not only on the modernity of his democratic message, but also on a massive propaganda campaign he conducted across Italy, using as conduits the American Red Cross, the YMCA, and the Committee on Public Information.

American popularity, though, did not ensure mutual understanding. The Paris peace negotiations revealed the limits of policies on both sides, illustrated most clearly in Wilson’s disastrous direct appeal to the Italian public. The estranged countries pulled inward, the Americans headed toward isolationism, the Italians toward fascism.

Rossini sets the Italian-American political confrontation within the full context of the two countries’ cultural perceptions of each other, different war experiences, and ideas about participatory democracy and peace. A stellar example of the new international history, this timely book highlights the impact of American ideology and sense of mission in the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674028241
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/30/2008
Series: Harvard Historical Studies , #161
Edition description: Translatio
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Daniela Rossini is Associate Professor of Contemporary History, Università di Roma Tre.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction

  1. Reciprocal Images before the Great War
  2. Two Parallel Wars
  3. Woodrow Wilson, World Leader
  4. Propaganda in Uniform
  5. The Arrival of the Professional Propagandists
  6. Wilson’s Diplomacy toward Italy
  7. The Paradox of the Fiume Dispute

  • Notes
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

In a well-written and judicious book, Rossini demonstrates how the Italian public constructed a distorted, idealized image of the American president and his foreign policy goals, owing to the skillful spinning of his image by the U.S. propaganda machine--the Committee on Public Information--and to wishful thinking on the part of an Italian public aching for a savior from across the Atlantic. This is a valuable addition to the literature on Wilsonianism, the First World War, and the Paris Peace Conference.

William R. Keylor

In a well-written and judicious book, Rossini demonstrates how the Italian public constructed a distorted, idealized image of the American president and his foreign policy goals, owing to the skillful spinning of his image by the U.S. propaganda machine--the Committee on Public Information--and to wishful thinking on the part of an Italian public aching for a savior from across the Atlantic. This is a valuable addition to the literature on Wilsonianism, the First World War, and the Paris Peace Conference.

William R. Keylor, Boston University

Richard Drake

A compelling study of nationalist arrogance misrepresented as selfless idealism. Rossini's edifying study concerns the impact of Wilsonian idealism on U.S.-Italian relations and the disastrous unintended consequences of the United States' first war to remake the world in its own image. Her book should have the effect of a fire bell in the night. --(Richard Drake, author of Apostles and Agitators: Italy's Marxist Revolutionary Tradition)

Akira Iriye

A thoroughly researched and brilliantly presented study of the impact of Woodrow Wilson on Italy during the First World War. Rossini shows that this was the first instance when massive propaganda became a tool of U.S. foreign policy and that it succeeded in creating a sense of mass nationalism in a country where people's identities had been more fragmented. What Wilson and the emissaries of the 'American myth' tried out in Italy would be repeated on many future occasions. Thus the book provides a superb examination of American exceptionalism in the service of the world. --(Akira Iriye, Harvard University)

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