Propaganda and Mass Persuasion

A Historical Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present

by Nicholas J. Cull, David Culbert, and David Welch


What were the secrets of both Hitler's and Stalin's success? Why did so many Americans approve of Senator Joseph McCarthy? How did FDR maintain his image with the electorate? The answers to these questions can be found in the realm of propaganda: the art of mass political persuasion.

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Cover image for Propaganda and Mass Persuasion

July 2003


Pages 479
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics World History/Politics and Government
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A truly international, authoritative A–Z guide to five centuries of propaganda, in both wartime and peacetime, which covers key moments, techniques, concepts, and some of the most influential propagandists in history.

This fascinating survey provides a comprehensive introduction to propaganda, its changing nature, its practitioners, and its impact on the past five centuries of world history. Written by leading experts, it covers the masters of the art from Joseph Goebbels to Mohandas Gandhi and examines enormously influential works of persuasion such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, techniques such as films and posters, and key concepts like black propaganda and brainwashing.

Case studies reveal the role of mass persuasion during the Reformation, and wars throughout history. Regional studies cover propaganda superpowers, such as Russia, China, and the United States, as well as little-known propaganda campaigns in Southeast Asia, Ireland, and Scandinavia. The book traces the evolution of propaganda from the era of printed handbills to computer fakery, and profiles such brilliant practitioners of the art as Third Reich film director Leni Riefenstahl and 19th-century cartoonist Thomas Nast, whose works helped to bring the notorious Boss Tweed to justice.


  • 60+ biographical profiles of the masters of mass persuasion, from Joseph Stalin, Joseph Goebbels, and Saddam Hussein to Mohandas Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Malcolm X
  • Information on dozens of historical and present-day propaganda institutions, including the KGB and the Voice of America
  • 20+ of the best-known documents and artifacts of propaganda, such as the film Casablanca and the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Covers five centuries of mass persuasion across the world from the 1500s to current times


  • First single-volume work on the topic with this breadth of coverage
  • Gathers and analyzes important results from the past 20 years of propaganda research in one convenient volume
  • Covers five centuries of mass persuasion, offering material that has contemporary relevance
  • Case studies explain contemporary mass persuasion techniques, including the peace movement, women's liberation, and environmentalism
Author Info

Nicholas J. Cull is professor of American studies and director of the Centre for American Studies at the University of Leicester, Midlands, England.

David Culbert is professor of history at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

David Welch is professor of modern history and director of the Centre for the Study of Propaganda at University of Kent, Canterbury, England.



"Ample indexing and a helpful introduction help make accessible this work on a fascinating and relevant issue. Recommended. General readers and undergraduates."Choice

"[D]oes a good job of exploring the different uses of propaganda. It would be a worthwhile purchase for academic and large public libraries and would also be accessible and interesting to high school students."Choice

"The evenhanded treatment in each entry presents all relevant sides to a story without being slanted by the opinion of the contributor . . . This volume is highly recommended for all sizes of academic libraries and larger public libraries."Reference & User Services Quarterly

"A one-stop resource for anyone doing studies of propaganda or related topics. . . . This book will be useful for social studies and sociology classes, as well as a fascinating independent read."Library Media Connection


Editors' Choice 2003 Reference Source — Booklist

Honor Book 2003 — Society of School Librarians International

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