Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War

Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War

Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War

Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War


Selling the American Way U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War Laura A. Belmonte "Well researched and clearly written, "Selling the American Way" is a welcome addition to a fast-growing body of literature on propaganda and the 'cultural Cold War.'"--"Journal of American History" "Belmonte has produced an invaluable contribution that should be examined by everyone interested in understanding public diplomacy and in building an effective public diplomacy campaign."--"American Historical Review" In 1955, the United States Information Agency published a lavishly illustrated booklet called "My America." Assembled ostensibly to document "the basic elements of a free dynamic society," the booklet emphasized cultural diversity, political freedom, and social mobility and made no mention of McCarthyism or the Cold War. Though hyperbolic, "My America" was, as Laura A. Belmonte shows, merely one of hundreds of pamphlets from this era written and distributed in an organized attempt to forge a collective defense of the "American way of life." "Selling the American Way" examines the context, content, and reception of U.S. propaganda during the early Cold War. Determined to protect democratic capitalism and undercut communism, U.S. information experts defined the national interest not only in geopolitical, economic, and military terms. Through radio shows, films, and publications, they also propagated a carefully constructed cultural narrative of freedom, progress, and abundance as a means of protecting national security. Not simply a one-way look at propaganda as it is produced, the book is a subtle investigation of how U.S. propaganda was received abroad and at home and how criticism of it by Congress and successive presidential administrations contributed to its modification. Laura A. Belmonte is Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma State University. 2008 272 pages 6 x 9 10 illus. ISBN 978-0-8122-2119-0 Paper $22.50s 15.00 ISBN 978-0-8122-0123-9 Ebook $22.5s 15.00 World Rights American History Short copy: "Selling the American Way" documents how U.S. officials defined and defended the "American Way of Life" in a quest to promote democratic capitalism and discredit communism, but faced great difficulties in reconciling their symbolic America with the complex political, economic, and strategic realities of the Cold War.


The vast majority of Americans are confident that the system of values
which animates our society-the principles of freedom, tolerance, the
importance of the individual, and the supremacy of reason over will
are valid and more vital than the ideology which is the fuel of Soviet
dynamism. Translated into terms relevant to the lives of other peoples
our system of values can become perhaps a powerful appeal to millions
who now seek or find in authoritarianism a refuge from anxieties,
bafflement, and insecurity

—NSC-68: United States Objectives and Programs
for National Security, April 14, 1950

The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and
totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom
and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy,
and free enterprise
.… These values of freedom are right and true for
every person, in every society-and the duty of protecting these values
against their enemies is the common calling of freedom-loving people
across the globe and across the ages

—National Security Strategy of the United States of America,
September 2002

IN THE IMMEDIATE aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, millions joined vigils held worldwide in response to what Pope John Paul II called the “unspeakable . . .

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