Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy.
Since 9/11, the importance of American public diplomacy has been self-evident, even as the State Department's failures and shortcomings make the news more often than its successes. Hart, associate professor of history at Texas Tech Univ., puts such programs in their historical context, charting the beginnings of official efforts to sell America's image abroad. From roughly the end of the Great Depression through the Korean War, the United States grew into its role as a major superpower, developing the policies and institutions that have come to define it. Hart makes extensive use of primary sources to untangle the internecine debates and bureaucratic wrangling that gave rise to the initiatives designed to shape international public opinion. Occasionally, he focuses too much on esoteric squabbles within the diplomatic corps, but in doing so demonstrates just how difficult much of the early work was, particularly with figures like Senator Joe McCarthy a prickly presence to both Democratic and Republican administrations. Concerned throughout with the uneasy balance between journalism and advertising, Hart explores the genesis of arguments that have continued relevance today and makes the national and global implications of public diplomacy painfully clear. (Jan.)