In This Review

Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual
Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual
By Daniel Bessner
Cornell University Press, 2018, 312 pp
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Hans Speier was one of the many German intellectuals who left Germany for the United States before World War II and later came to play a major part in the war effort against the Nazis. Speier began his academic career studying the sociology of knowledge, and after he arrived in the United States, he directed the U.S. government’s propaganda effort against Germany. The debates recounted in Bessner’s biography between Speier and other officials over how to develop effective campaigns are particularly fascinating in the context of contemporary worries about information warfare. Speier relished his influential advisory role in government and later drew on his experience at the new RAND Corporation, where he made sure that academic work still flowed to senior policymakers. Bessner’s book, which largely focuses on the intellectual and says little about Speier’s personal life, picks up on an issue that bothered Speier but did not ultimately deter him from his work: What are the implications for democracy when unelected experts, often working in secret, shape government policy?