Synopses & Reviews
Propaganda. Manipulation. Spin. Control. It has ever been thusor has it? On the eve of the 60th anniversary of George Orwell's classic essay on propaganda (Politics and the English Language), writers have been invited to explore what Orwell didn'tor couldn'tknow. Their responses, framed in pithy, focused essays, range far and wide: from the effect of television and computing, to the vast expansion of knowledge about how our brains respond to symbolic messages, to the merger of journalism and entertainment, to lessons learned during and after a half-century of totalitarianism. Together, they paint a portrait of a political culture in which propaganda and mind control are alive and well (albeit in forms and places that would have surprised Orwell). The pieces in this anthology sound alarm bells about the manipulation and misinformation in today's politics, and offer guideposts for a journalism attuned to Orwellian tendencies in the 21st century.
"Three years before he published 1984, Orwell wrote Politics and the English Language, an attack on the use of political speech 'in defense of the indefensible.' That essay (reprinted in full) serves as the point of departure for these 20 articles on modern methods of American propaganda, which editor and freelance journalist Szántó calls 'subtle, insidious, sugarcoated, focus-grouped, and market-tested.' Contributors are consistently thought-provoking, but happily diverse in background and concern: Farnaz Fassihi, senior Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, takes on war reporting; USC journalism professor Martin Kaplan explains why he refers to television news as 'the Infotainment Freak Show'; and cognitive scientist George Lakoff discusses the psychological principles manipulated to goose the efficacy of political messages. An epilogue from moneyed progressive George Soros (whose Open Society Institute co-sponsored the publication) expresses hope that this book will 'inoculate the public against false arguments'; timed to coincide with the 2008 presidential election, Szántó's collection should indeed resonate with Americans increasingly put out by the obfuscating tactics of many political campaigns (and careers)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A passionate, thought-provoking, sometimes incendiary look at the role of propaganda in American today-- by leading political pundits, intellectuals, and writers