The most powerful political tool of the modern presidency is control of the message and the image. In Republic of Spin - a vibrant history covering more than 100 years of politics - presidential historian David Greenberg recounts the rise of the White House spin machine, from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama. His sweeping, startling narrative takes us behind the scenes to see how the tools and techniques of image making and message craft work. We meet Woodrow Wilson convening the first White House press conference, Franklin Roosevelt huddling with his private pollsters, Ronald Reagan's aides crafting his nightly news sound bites, and George W. Bush staging his "Mission Accomplished" photo-op.
We meet, too, the backstage visionaries who pioneered new ways of gauging public opinion and mastering the media - figures like George Cortelyou, TR's brilliantly efficient press manager; 1920s ad whiz Bruce Barton; Robert Montgomery, Dwight Eisenhower's canny TV coach; and of course the key spinmeisters of our own times, from Roger Ailes to David Axelrod. Greenberg also examines the profound debates Americans have waged over the effect of spin on our politics. Does spin help our leaders manipulate the citizenry? Or does it allow them to engage us more fully in the democratic project?
Exploring the ideas of the century's most incisive political critics, from Walter Lippmann and H. L. Mencken to Hannah Arendt and Stephen Colbert, Republic of Spin illuminates both the power of spin and its limitations - its capacity not only to mislead but also to lead.
©2016 David Greenberg (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
I spent several months listening to this Audible title. I can't emphasize enough how surprised and delighted I have been with this book. The subject matter has the potential to make most people's eyes roll up in their heads as they fall into a coma. But the approach taken here was just so entertaining and enlightening. And also, I guess, history just has to float your boat (it surely floats mine). I particularly enjoyed Christopher Price's reading. I'm very picky about Audible voice actors. I thought his expression was perfect - not particularly theatrical and definitely not over-acted. Neither was it too plain or monotone. It was a great conversation. I perceived him as the writer, which to me is exactly what one wants. It's hard for me to separate that voice from the material. Aside from the performance, the author's means of describing events of history from the point of view of advertising, propaganda, public relations and the related behind-the-scenes characters of the time (especially from the first half of the 20th century) which most of us have never heard of was genius. The book takes you through evolving approaches and theories, the battles, campaigns (political and otherwise) and the country's changing perceptions, all the while feeding us wonderful nuggets of real history, humanizing the leaders and participants. It's kind of amazing how, even without the 24-hour news cycles of today, there were underlying groups of FOX and MSNBC-ish pundits feverishly trying to influence the masses and others just trying to cut through the discourse to ferret out the truth - if there really ever is just one truth. The book keeps you thinking. As I would finish a few chapters, in some spare moments I'd find myself Googling some of the personalities and events to get a closer look. I absolutely enjoyed the heck out of this book! Bravo, Greenberg!!
Greenberg no, Price yes
His book purports to be an objective look at political spin, yet is relentlessly spinning left wing talking points. Regan bad, Clinton good, Bush bad, Obama good. Climate change is settled science and Bush supported "lunatic fringe" of scientists who claimed there was not a lot of evidence to support it.
I don't recommend this book to people who are looking for an objective or balanced look at political propaganda.
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