THE WORD WAR by Thomas C. Sorensen


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Mr. Sorensen must have been taking notes during his thirteen years with the U.S. Information Agency; certainly students of American propaganda--policies, personalities, techniques--will be taking notes from him. Out of experience and extensive research he has compiled a history of the official efforts which began obscurely in World War I, mounted under the direction of Robert Sherwood (Voice of America) and Elmer Davis (Office of War Information) during World War II, and became permanent in the form of the U.S.I.A. in 1953. In large measure this is the internal story of that agency--including its handling of specific situations--though there is one illustrative visit to a foreign post and occasional analysis of effect and effectiveness. Edward R. Murrow necessarily looms large: he invigorated and reshaped operations, directing the most important message at the most influential audience. And he was closer to the formation of national policy and its follow-up than any of his predecessors (or successors). On the controversial question of the U.S.I.A.'s role as disinterested truth-sayer or government spokesman, Mr. Sorensen (brother of Ted) comes out strongly in favor of circumspect advocacy, with reasons, a position that critics may well challenge. Although he has favorites, the author is circumspect generally, and detailed, and documented. Too much roughage for the general reader, too little penetration for the all-purpose intellectual; highly informative for student, specialist, scholar.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1968
Publisher: Harper & Row