To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II

By Humphrey, Carol Sue | Journalism History, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II


Humphrey, Carol Sue, Journalism History


Brewer, Susan A. To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States During World War II Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997. 269 pp. $39.95.

In her study of British World War II propaganda in the United States, Susan Brewer portrays efforts to influence the postwar world by guiding American attitudes during the conflict. British leaders, increasingly aware that their position of world leadership declined with every passing year, hoped to continue to have an impact on international politics by convincing the United States to form a postwar "partnership." Their primary tool in this endeavor was propaganda.

British leaders perceived a strong relationship between domestic events and attitudes in the United States and the American government's foreign policy. Their propaganda campaign, "a highly plotted, well-orchestrated endeavor with concrete goals," sought to use this reality to influence American opinion to support the development of a "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain that would win the war and influence peace.

One continual problem for British officials, which Brewer capably highlights, was to avoid the accusation of using propaganda in a negative way. World War I and its aftermath had shown clearly that Americans resented being the target of propaganda because they perceived it as unfair manipulation. In order to avoid this problem, British propagandists most often sought to reach the American public through the American media, using American reporters to put the British message into an American voice and to avoid accusations of unfair foreign influence through propaganda.

Brewer succinctly portrays the various efforts of British propagandists throughout the conflict. …

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