Propaganda Warriors

Clayton D. Laurie, Author
Clayton D. Laurie, Author University Press of Kansas $35 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7006-0765-5
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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Belief in the existence of a worldwide Nazi ""fifth column"" inspired a terrified America to launch an unprecedented barrage of anti-Third Reich propaganda during WW II. In this eye-opening study, Laurie (The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1877-1945), who teaches at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, reveals how three government agencies--the Office of War Information (OWI), the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Army--emerged as the nation's leading propagandists and wound up battling one another as well as Hitler. The OSS favored emulating subversive Nazi tactics; the OWI wanted to spread ""truth""; the Army insisted on applying propaganda toward specific tactical aims. The Army eventually took control of the U.S. propaganda machine, but Laurie credits all three agencies with performing a vital service. A fascinating sidelight here is the portrayal of the nascent mind-sets that would characterize the civilian agencies' postwar incarnations (the OSS became the CIA; the OWI returned as the United States Information Agency). This is a serious investigation throughout, but Laurie can be downright amusing at times, as when describing U.S. propaganda dirty tricks like the formation by the OSS of the fictional League of Lonely German Women, whose ""offerings"" of sexual services to German troops was meant to torture soldiers with thoughts of what their sweethearts were up to. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
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