Top critical review
Not very insightful - look elsewhere
Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2019
I assigned this book for a college course on the history of theory and propaganda, but I will not make that mistake again. The author is clearly erudite and well read in his field, but the book greatly suffers from the author's choice to stay wholly within the cloistered world of analytic philosophy. What we get here is a sort of ideal-type abstracted meditation on what propaganda might or should be in theory, and yet one that has absolutely nothing to say about what propaganda has meant and functioned in practice. For instance, Stanley argues himself into a corner in saying that there can be no such thing as a propaganda ministry in a proper liberal democracy such as the U.S. Of course, the U.S. had one - the Committee on Public Information, during which a generation of admen and PR professionals cut their teeth in emotion management and the manipulation of symbols. A truly deep, insightful history of propaganda requires a properly historical approach, one that shows all of the sordid manifestations of mass persuasion across a variety of contexts - not this extremely limited, insular and hermetic thought-experiment in analytic philosophy.