In This Review

The Propaganda Warriors: America's Crusade Against Nazi Germany
The Propaganda Warriors: America's Crusade Against Nazi Germany
By Clayton D. Laurie
University Press of Kansas, 1996, 335 pp.

This study of American efforts to combat Nazi propaganda with a propaganda campaign that could match it focuses on the difficulties and rivalries that plagued the agencies that were put in charge (after a number of private initiatives that began in 1938). Neither the Moral Operations branch of William J. Donovan's rather Machiavellian and conservative Office of Strategic Services nor the Psychological Warfare Division of the army shared the enthusiasm of Robert Sherwood, the guiding spirit of the Office of War Information, for spreading a liberal, internationalist, and idealistic message aimed at the masses overseas rather than at the elites. Nor did Congress show much support for the OWI -- and, as usual, Roosevelt remained aloof and let the agencies overlap and compete. The author concludes that the "winning weapon in psychological warfare" was finally developed by the army, whose approach was "pragmatic and designed to appeal to the intelligence and common sense of the enemy's . . . populations rather than to their political or ideological fears or preferences." But there is no attempt here to provide evidence regarding the success of all these policies.