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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 August 2013
This is one of those books that I've wanted to read for years, as a primary reference to understand how the world really operates. It's great to read books and to watch documentaries which talk about these things, but you can only truly appreciate what's going on around you when you go straight to the source. And Edward Bernays, the early 20th century propagandist who used the psychological insights of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, to transform the propaganda industry into what we now call "public relations", is one of the most crucial primary sources. Interest on his life and work have been reinvigorated within recent years, due to activists such as Noam Chomsky citing him as a pivotal spearhead of the Big Brother society, and an award winning BBC documentary by Adam Curtis, `Century of the Self'.

This short book, `Propaganda', is essentially propaganda for propaganda. By the 1920s, the once neutral word "propaganda" had been tainted with the same connotations it still has until now. Bernays, a professional propagandist, tasked himself with the mission of giving acceptability back to what he considered a legitimate advertising technique. This was back before he would realise that the word would never become fashionable again, replacing it with "public relations", or P.R.(opaganda). And, so, this short book acts essentially as an advertisement for "educated Americans", to teach them of the value of propaganda. The first half of the book is basically an apology for propaganda, and the wise men behind the scenes that we have "consented" to employ it for "our own good", to sway our opinions into the right direction and to prevent chaos from ensuing as a result of having no wise guidance in our lives. The second half is more of a practical manual of how propaganda can be successfully utilised in areas of business, politics, education, and others. While I found the first half more interesting, the second half is surprisingly relevant to today's seemingly far removed world from the 1920s, when this book was written.

In many ways, Edward Bernays' `Propaganda' is not as sinister as I had expected it to be. Bernays seems convinced that propaganda is a natural and unavoidable part of life, and he makes many convincing arguments to back up this assertion (though he is a master propagandist, so it's no surprise that his outlook seems convincing). Furthermore, he continually reminds his readers of their ethical duty to tell the truth and to not mislead the people whose thoughts they wish to sway to their cause. Nor did Bernays, like the propagandists who would come after him, seem to believe that the masses are brainless idiots (or, if he did believe this to be so, he didn't even so much as allude to that opinion within these pages). Bernays, it seems, dreamed of a world in which an unseen group of benevolent wise men would guide mankind, through propaganda, into making rational choices for the good of society. However, the role of today's advertising and P.R. world, which Bernays breathed into existence, is (as Noam Chomsky explains) to hurl the masses into making irrational decisions, the complete opposite of what Bernays seemed to have stood for.

Edward Bernays' `Propaganda' offers a valuable insight into how our collective minds function, and the mentality of those who are really pulling the strings in society (the advertisers, big business leaders, as well as prominent politicians) think of us. To fully appreciate this book, read it in conjunction with some of Noam Chomsky's numerous works on media manipulation, and watch Adam Curtis's `Century of the Self'.
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VINE VOICEon 3 December 2010
Edward Bernays is certainly a man with self-assurance. He describes the machinery by which our perceptions are managed by our 'invisible governors'. And indeed our world has been created by the techniques he describes. But there is a certain amount of hubris in what he's written, and as Adam Curtis explains in 'The Century of the Self' he used his skills for dubious ends. It's certainly a ground-breaking book, but you wonder if Governments and businesses can control the messages in the way he describes in the era of social media and the internet. Also, as we saw in the Iraq war, the truth comes out in the end, and once you've deceived the people once, it's not so easy a second time. Still, it's good to know how the dark arts work, and Bernays is an excellent writer.
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on 17 August 2017
All the pieces fall into place after reading 'propaganda'. We now know what's going on behind the scenes, although the book is not an expose as such, but rather the mechanism of how it all came about. A basic necessity for the initiate into how manipulation works.
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To true!
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on 12 June 2017
Fast delivery, item as expected
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on 26 August 2017
One of the most important books ever written
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on 28 February 2013
I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Edward Bernays is known as ‘the father of public relations’ and is undoubtedly one of the most influential men of the 20th century. In this book he promotes the newly emerging field of propaganda and PR as a necessary and good thing, vital to the functioning of a modern democratic society. The target audience is clearly the businessmen and politicians that form his client-group. It is interesting to see the author plainly and matter-of-factly discuss things that would now get anyone labelled a conspiracy theorist – the need for hidden government and manipulation of the common herd so that they do not interfere with the needs of industry and the elite. Even if you are familiar with these kinds of topics already, it is eye-opening to see them presented not by aforementioned conspiracy theorists and activists, but by a passionate advocate and architect of the methods now applied globally to maintain control of society at large.

It should be studied in schools, both as a historical work and also to help arm young people against the assault of psychological warfare we are confronted with each time we walk down the high street, enter a supermarket, open a magazine or newspaper, turn on the TV or listen to the radio.
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I went to the X Factor final, we won tickets, and I had the opportunity to just look at the behaviour of the crowd. It was like a Hitler youth rally but with grown ups. Grown ladies are shouting 'SIMON', with their little kids by their side. The kids are the next generation of consumers. When Dermot, the presenter, walked past our seats, the people screamed and held their hands out to touch him!

There is a quote somewhere, Jan Irvin uses it, which has Edward Bernays talking about manufacturing the celebrity religion and, indeed, celebrities replacing the Gods.

If you study Indian religion, all those statues are for the masses who can't understand the real religion (I am putting it very crudely here). I always find modern people worshipping celebrities like Gods. They even use the first name of the celebrity, like it's their next door neighbour.

Anyway, reading this book, I sort of agree with Barnays. What I mean is, people today do act stupid and dumb. But is this because Bernays and his minions were successful? I always wondered why they never gave nobel prizes to psychologists but they do to other genius'?
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on 17 March 2010
Shows just WHY we have all been propagandised into believing such fallacies as 'global warming' in order for those at the top to make huge profits from taxes on us breathing out!

Don't take anything you hear at face value - Bernays' methods are more alive today than ever!

Remember the old ads where doctors told you smoking was good for you etc?!
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on 24 December 2015
Small nice book that can even be carried around in my pocket...reads very direct and succinct...a glance already noticed some insightful ideas...looking forward to reading!
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