I first grasped the value of propaganda when it was time to pick up toys. As the eldest of four children who were allowed to make elaborate messes, I led the clean-up. With delight, I discovered that the effort went easier with music, Sousa marches or show tunes. Later, I became interested in the stories that Americans tell about their country and its role in the world. In particular, I was intrigued by the way the people in charge used patriotic versions of history to win support for their foreign policy, especially during wartime when so much was at stake. As any big sister knows, the power to manipulate can be used for good or nefarious purposes. I write this book for my brothers, sister, students, and anyone else who wants to understand how a nation can be inspired with truths and deceptions when it goes to war.
The research and writing of this book were made possible by generous fellowships and grants. My thanks to the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point University Personnel Development Committee. I am grateful to the splendid staffs at the National Archives for assistance with documents, still pictures, and motion picture, sound, and video records, the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and the Prints and Photographs Division, the John F. Kennedy Library, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, the Harry S. Truman Library, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. For resources from work in progress to silent films and Operation Enduring Freedom Trading Cards, I am grateful to Stephen Badsey, Laura Belmonte, Nick Cull, Leslie Midkiff DeBauche, Mitchell Hall, David Langbart, Neil Lewis, Chester Pach, John Regnier,