Easily Led
A History of Propaganda

Thomson, Oliver
Publisher:  Sutton Publishing, United Kingdom
Year Published:  1999  
Pages:  360pp   ISBN:  0-7509-1965-5
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX8354

From Ancient Sumer to modern Poland, Thomson traces the use of propaganda and its influence on human events.

Abstract:  "The plain truth will influence half a score of men at the most in a nation while mysteries will lead millions by the nose."

So is quoted Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, in Oliver Thomson's impressive overview of perhaps the third oldest profession, the propagandist. From Ancient Sumer to modern Poland, Thomson traces the use of propaganda and its influence on human events. Thomson defines the art of manipulation to include not only the newspaper coverage, polemical tracts and cartoons the modern viewer is familiar with, but also looks at architectural, rhythmic and poetic means of swaying the emotions and the intellect.

Thomson's attempt to profile the history of propaganda is not an unqualified success. Perhaps the task is more than a 300 page book is capable of. There are frequent moments when the reader feels hurried through room after room of an enormous museum with little time to study the individual exhibits. Easily Led is at its most successful when Thomson illustrates the role of propaganda in a particular historical moment. The marshalling of forces to sway public opinion during Julius Caesar's infamous affair with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra is a notable example. Here the picture is painted of the emotions surrounding a specific public spectacle, the geopolitical ramifications of it, and the methods used, or abused, by polemicists on all sides.

Table of Contents


Part One: Analysis
1. Introduction: Defining Where Propaganda Begins and Ends
2. How Do We Know It Works? The Evidence
3. What Was It All For? Analysis by Objectives
4. Tentacles: The Range of Media Used
5. Tricks of the Trade (1): Heart Rather than Head
6. Tricks of the Trade (2): Devices Used to Achieve Effect
7. Tricks of the Trade (3): The Uses of Fantasy and Fable
8. The Dangers of Not Going Far Enough
9. The Dangers of Going Too Far
10. How Often Did It Work? Response Analysis

Part Two: History
11. Introduction
12. Early Civilizations
13. Classical Period
14. Christian Era
15. Dark Ages
16. Early Middle Ages
17. Later Middle Ages
18. Renaissance
19. Reformation
20. Civil Wars
21. Age of Absolutism
22. Revolutions
23. Empire and Nationalism
24. Pressure Groups and Party Politics
25. More Empire Builders
26. Age of Missionaries
27. First World War and Revolution
28. Dictators
29. Democratic Propaganda
30. Decolonization and the Cold War
31. Drift to Left and Right
32. Propaganda and the Fall of Communism
33. The Decade of Spin


Subject Headings