Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

Excerpt

On July 6, 1937, trucks rolled up to The National Archives in Washington, bringing to their last resting place 180 cubic feet of records which for the previous sixteen years had been all but lost in the Munitions Building basement at 20th Street and Constitution Avenue. The precious cargo represented virtually all that is left of the files of the Committee on Public Information, the so-called Creel Committee of the World War. Here in these papers is the story of America's first "propaganda ministry," and its dynamic leader, George Creel.

This book goes to press at a moment when no one can say that America will surely avoid facing once more the issues and problems of 1917-1919. The lessons of the Creel Committee are calling aloud for recognition in this tense year of 1939. Therefore, this book attempts whenever possible to consider not only the actual mechanics and the work of the CPI but also the larger and more gravely urgent questions which are with us today--or may be tomorrow.

France and England have become, at least for the time being, "totalitarian democracies," and Americans ask themselves what may happen to this country if it is sucked into the maelstrom. As this book attempts to demonstrate, the advance of censorship power can be silent and almost unnoticed as wave follows wave of patriotic hysteria. If the record of the last war is to be taken, American resistance to repressive measures may not be great. The question arises whether, in the event of a new war, America would feel like indulging in the luxury of some "Creel Committee" to stand as buffer between military dictatorship and civil life.

As to the foreign work of the CPI--about which little has been written and not all of that in entire candor--the world . . .

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