on atomic fission, for example, or the Ultra project involving the breaking of the German military-operations code, or the decoding of Japanese naval signals, or the work of the civilian coast-watchers in the South Pacific. Because these fascinating actualities could not be mentioned until well after the war was won, what was projected to the contemporary audience almost had to be fictional, an image of pseudo-war and psuedo- human-behavior not too distant from the familiar world of magazine advertising and improving popular fiction.
The postwar power of "the media" to determine what shall be embraced as reality is in large part due to the success of the morale culture in wartime. It represents, indeed, its continuation. Today, nothing--neither church, university, library, gallery, philanthropy, foundation, or corporation--no matter how actually worthy and blameless, can thrive unless bolstered by a persuasive professional public-relations operation, supervised by the later avatars of the PR colonels and captains so indispensable to the maintenance of high morale and thus to the conduct of the Second World War.
The China Hoax could probably not have been worked so successfully at any other time, for it required a unique context of public credulity and idealism. If elementary logic--the only kind wartime could accommodate--required the enemy to be totally evil, it required the Allies to be totally good--all of them. The opposition between this black and this white was clear and uncomplicated, untroubled by subtlety or nuance, let alone irony or skepticism. Paul Addison is right to note that "the war served a generation of Britons and Americans as a myth which enshrined their essential purity, a parable of good and evil."1 In the absence of