Munitions of the mind: A History of Propaganda from the ancient world to the present era

This book first appeared in 1990, with a second edition in 1995. It was, until recently, the only single volume history of propaganda from the ancient world to the present day. No such volume can purport to be comprehensive, but it has proved necessary to update the final chapters and to add new ones that embrace the Balkan wars (including the 1999) Kosovo campaign and, of course, the so-called ‘war’ against international terrorism. As I write this new preface, the world is gearing up for another possible war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Leaflets have already been dropped there. This book attempts to place the conduct of propaganda during these events within a wider historical context. It retains its main thesis that propaganda is a much misunderstood word, that it is not necessarily the ‘bad thing’ that most people think it is. As a process of persuasion, it is value neutral.

Rather, it is the intention behind the propaganda which demands scrutiny and it is that intention which begs value judgments, not the propaganda itself. Much has happened since 1995, not least the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, or ‘9/11’ as it is now currently being described in shorthand. We are in the middle of another major propaganda campaign, although it is often difficult for us to identify it for what it is because we are living through it. News and views are all around us, speculation is rife, sides are being polarized. Indeed, the issue of Iraq notwithstanding, we may be on the verge of the greatest propaganda campaign ever seen as the West struggles to convince the Muslim world that this is not a war against Islam when many in the Islamic world genuinely believe that it is. President George W. Bush warns that the United States is in it ‘for the long haul’. If so, then we will see a new global struggle for hearts and minds that may be on a par with the Cold War. This book should, until its next edition, provide some clues as to how to identify propaganda for what it is, how it has evolved and – most importantly – to judge for oneself the intentions behind those undertaking it.

A classic work, Munitions of the mind traces how propaganda has formed part of the fabric of conflict since the dawn of warfare, and how in its broadest definition it has also been part of a process of persuasion at the heart of human communication. Stone monuments, coins, broadsheets, paintings and pamphlets, posters, radio, film, television, computers and satellite communications – throughout history, propaganda has had access to ever more complex and versatile media.

This third edition has been revised and expanded to include a new preface, new chapters on the 1991 Gulf War, information age conflict in the post-Cold War era, and the world after the terrorist attacks of September 11. It also offers a new epilogue and a comprehensive bibliographical essay.

About Book

Title: Munitions of the Mind: A History of Propaganda, Third Edition
Author: Philip M. Taylor
Series: Politics Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain MUP
Length: 360 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press; 3rd edition (November 15, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0719067677
ISBN-13: 978-0719067679

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