Monday, November 3, 2014

“Creel, Lippmann, and the Origins of American Public Diplomacy": A Select Annotated Bibliography

This entry is a work in progress; updated/reviewed 10/15/2016; suggestions welcome -- please email

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Albright, [Madeleine]. "The Importance of Public Diplomacy To American Foreign Policy: Remarks at a ceremony commemorating the consolidation of the Department of State and the U.S. Information Agency." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State Dispatch, 10, No. 8 (October 1999): 8-9. The immortal words (drafted by a "consolidated" former USIA employee?) of Ms. Albright, who made the dissolution of the USIA possible: "It should be clear to all that American public diplomacy succeeds not because it conveys information but because of the information it conveys. That is why, for almost half a century, USIA has been the most effective antipropaganda institution on the face of the earth."

Arndt, Richard T. The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century. Washington: Potomac Books, Inc. 2005. A book critical of the very concept of “public diplomacy,” it contains a chapter castigating the CPI. See John Brown, “Richard T. Arndt on George Creel and the Committee on Public Information (1917-1919),” Notes and Essays [Blog] (October 12, 2014) Note: Dr. Arndt kindly responded to these comments on his magnum opus to me by email: "As for 'castigating' CPI, I thought I was a lot more subtle than that. CPI was a prime example of the Great American Mishmash, doing marvelous things and mediocre and useless and new-precedent things all in one big sloppy lump. Lippmann's CPI would not have done that. Actually I think CPI was a miraculous affair, for its time and place; it would have been nice, but given the context and the mental structures of our beloved country, it was more than we perhaps deserved."

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Auerbach, Jonathan and Castronovo, Russ, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Contains article by Sue Curry Jansen, “The World's Greatest Adventure in Advertising': Walter Lippmann's Critique of Censorship and Propaganda”: 301-325.

Bean, Walter E. George Creel and His Critics: A Study of the Attacks on the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919. Corrected carbon copy of Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, 1941. Stored in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, George Creel Papers, Box 7. A well-documented but somewhat naive defense of Creel's work as Chairman of  the CPI. Bean -- who interviewed Creel -- was evidently overtaken by his vivacious personality.

Blankenhorn, Herbert. Adventures in Propaganda: Letters from an Intelligence Officer in France. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1919. Lippmann, who was Blankenhorn’s colleague at the Military Intelligence Branch, is rarely mentioned in the book, but it is a useful (but too laudatory to be fully believed) account of the MIB’s work. Includes an introduction (rhapsody might be a better word) by Blankenhorns’s wife, Mary Dewhurst, as well as (in Appendix II, pp. 160-164) a memorable article from Stars and Stripes (January 3, 1919), “Gen. Propaganda Explains How He Won Boche Over.”

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Brewer, Susan. Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Contains an intellectually uninspiring chapter critical of the CPI.

Brown, John. “Empire of Ideas” [Review of Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U. S. Foreign Policy by Justin Hart].” American Diplomacy (April, 2013). Suggests that, contrary to the book under review, the origins of American public diplomacy can be found in the CPI -- and in the Declaration of Independence.

Brown, John. "Our First Official Propagandist, review of Selling the Great War: The Making of American Propaganda by Alan Axelrod." Foreign Service Journal (June 2009): 76-77.

Brown, John. “Public Diplomacy and Propaganda: Their Differences." American Diplomacy (September, 2008).

Brown, John. “The Anti-Propaganda Tradition in the United States.” Public Diplomacy Alumni Association (July 4, 2003).

Brown, John. “The Purposes and Cross-Purposes of American Public Diplomacy.” American Diplomacy (August, 2002).

Brown, John. “Two Ways of Looking At Propaganda.” Public Diplomacy Blog, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy (June 29, 2006). Mentions two ways of looking at this phenomenon: moralist (e.g., Plato, Ellul) and neutralist (Lasswell, Taylor).

Bruntz, George G. Allied Propaganda and the Collapse of the German Empire in 1918. Stanford Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1938. A clear, concise account which covers Creel and the CPI; only slightly dated, it contains a succinct foreword on propaganda by Harold D. Lasswell.

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Cone, Stacey. “Pulling the Plug on America's Propaganda: Sen. J.W. Fulbright's Leadership of the Antipropaganda Movement, 1943-74.” Journalism History, 30, No. 4 (Winter 2005): 166-176. An article which shows the persistence of the hostility toward propaganda in the U.S. -- which arguably began during/after WWI and Creel's chairmanship of the CPI.

“Creel: An Announcement.” Everybody’s Magazine, 13 (January 10, 1919): 24.

Creel, George. “George Creel Replies.” The New Republic, 2, Issue 21 (March 27, 1915): 209-210. Marks the beginning of the contentious Creel/Lippmann relationship. They both sound intolerant and self-glorifying. So much for experts in "communications" actually communicating with each other.

Creel, George. How We Advertised America: The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on Public Information that Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe. New York and London: Harper’s and Brothers, 1920. Creel's P. J. Barnum-style marketing of reports on the CPI. Public diplomacy (as it was not yet known) on steroids. Full of Soviet-style statistics on how many propaganda items were produced by the CPI; far less specific on how many people were actually influenced by them.

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Creel, George. “Propaganda and Morale.” American Journal of Sociology, 47, No. 3 (November 1941): 340-351. A conclusion from this article: Was Creel a subconscious Propaganda Fide Jesuit, given his (granted collapsed) Catholic background?

Creel, George. “Public Opinion in War Time.” Carl Kelsey, ed., Mobilizing America’s Resources for the War. The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science, 78 (July 1918): 185-194.

Creel, George. Rebel at Large: Recollections of Fifty Crowded Years. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1947. How factually reliable this autobiography is can certainly be subject to much doubt (its author was 70 when he wrote it), but it provides valuable insights into Creel’s family and professional background. When covering Creel’s early years, it sells a folksy "down-home," Tom Sawyer quality to them. Creel was from Missouri, and so was Mark Twain. The book, difficult to follow from a chronological perspective, has been neglected by the scholarly literature.

Creel, George. Wilson and the Issues. New York: The Century Co., 1916. Creel’s ode to Wilson (when Wilson was against getting the U.S. into the Great War, which Creel, appointed by the president as Chairman of the Committee on Information, enthusiastically propagated).

Cull, Nicholas. “Engagement Is The New Public Diplomacy or The Adventures of a Euphemism,” USC Center on Public Diplomacy (June 5, 2009).  Important, succinct insight on recent public diplomacy history. A must read for "policy makers" at the State Department.

Cull, Nicholas. “'Public Diplomacy’ before Gullion: The Evolution of a Phrase.” Public Diplomacy Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy (April 18, 2006). Essential reading on the linguistic origins of the term “public diplomacy.”

Cull, Nicholas J. The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. The most definitive history, to date, of the United States Information Agency (1953-1999), a Cold War successor of the CPI (1917-1919) and Office of War Information (1942-45). Some would say its well-written treatment of the USIA, the product of enormous research, reads too much like an "official" history and is insufficiently critical. But it is a magnum opus by the Edward Gibbon on the story of American propaganda in the late twentieth century.

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Cull, Nicholas J. The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy, 1989-2001. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. The USIA might not have been the Roman Empire, but it did decline and fall as this book documents. Some would say for the better.

Eulau, Heinz. “Wilsonian Idealist: Lippmann Goes to War.” The Antioch Review, 14, No. 1 (Spring, 1954): 87-108.

Fraser, Lindsey. Propaganda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957. There is no better introduction to the study of propaganda than the initial pages (3-14) to this jargon-free, seldom cited volume. Fraser worked for BBC German Service during WWII. Definitely should be online as one of the classics on propaganda.

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Freedman, Max. “Lippmann on Democracy.” [Review of Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann.] The Nation, 180, Issue 10 (March 5, 1955): 202-203.

Gary, Brett. The Nervous Liberals: Propaganda Anxieties from World War I to the Cold War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. A useful source on the anti-propaganda mood that developed in the U.S. after World War I.

George Creel.” Wikipedia. A surprisingly good short entry on Creel, despite some omissions.

Hodgson, Godfrey. “Charles Wick,” The Guardian (August 3, 2008): “He was born Charles Zwick in Cleveland on October 12 1917. … He shifted the Z from the front of his name to the middle when he was working as a business adviser to the Tommy Dorsey swing band in the 1930s … Charles Z Wick, political adviser, born October 12 1917; died July 20 2008” (note: no period after “Z”).

Iber, Patrick. Manufacturing the Manufacturing of Consent.

Isaacson, Walter. “A Declaration of Mutual Dependence.” The New York Times (July 4, 2004). The former Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (2009-12) and author of a biography on America’s first “public diplomat,” Benjamin Franklin, argues that “the Declaration of Independence is, in effect, a work of propaganda -- or, to put it more politely, an exercise in public diplomacy.” One wonders why no journalist asked Isaacson about this statement when he was chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees USG international broadcasting. Question: "Sir, do you think the Voice of America is a 'work of propaganda,' as you state the Declaration of Independence was?"

Jansen, Sue Curry. “Walter Lippmann, Straw Man of Communication Research.” David W. Park and Jefferson Pooley, eds. The History of Media and Communication Research. New York: Peter Lang, 2008: 71-112.

Johnson, Joe. "Public Diplomacy's Surprising History - the Creel Committee Campaign of World War I." (February 1, 2015). "Here is a guest post and a full interview by Dr. John Brown, former diplomat and lecturer affiliated with Georgetown University, about an important collection of papers released by the Department of State Historian."

Jowett, Garth S. and O'Donnell. Propaganda and Persuasion. Beverly Hills, California, 1986. Of some use in distinguishing the tricky distinctions between persuasion and propaganda.

Kazin, Alfred. “Walter Lippmann and the American Century.” The New Republic, 183, Issue 7 (August 16, 1980): 35-38. Kazin, in a not overly complimentary portrait of Lippmann based on his reading of Steel’s biography (see below), notes that Lippmann, marked by a “hatred of his Jewishness … thought it inadvisable for his ‘mixed marriage’ to produce children” (p. 38). “Is it possible,” Kazin asks, “that Lippmann will be remembered more for the life he led in American history than for anything he said about it? That he will be remembered as historical actor rather than as a thinker? He would not have liked that.” Kazin’s review suggests the tension between the literary (Kazin) and the philosophical (Lippmann). And I sense that Kazin felt Lippmann was prepotente in assuming that his -- Lippmann's -- brilliant thoughts were a solution to the world's problems.

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Kennedy, David M. Over Here: The First World War and American Society – Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. A thoughtful analysis that argues that “the American experience in World War I … darkly adumbrated the themes Orwell was put at the center of his futuristic fantasy” (p. 60). As a survey it lacks some command of "facts."

Lasswell, Harold D. Propaganda Technique in the World War. New York: P. Smith, 1938. [First published in 1927.] A classic, pompously written academic study of that early twentieth phenomenon, modern propaganda, by the social scientist who began its "objective" study in the United States.

Laurie, Clayton D. “The Chanting of Crusaders: Captain Heber Blankenhorn and AEF Combat Propaganda in World War I.” The Journal of Military History, 59, Issue 3 (July 1995): 457-481. This excellent article sheds much light on Walter Lippmann’s stint with U.S. Military Intelligence Division in the summer of 1918 in the small town French town of Chaumont. Walter made sure he went to Paris on assignment. Chaumont was not la Ville-Lumière for this oh-so refined pundit who made sure he avoided the draft but was nevertheless commissioned as an Army captain thanks to his White House contacts.

Lennox, Sarah and Lennox Frank. “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (1964).” New German Critique, No. 3 (Autumn, 1974): 49-55. There is of course a strong case to be made that “public opinion,” as a social/political phenomenon, appeared in 18th century Europe, but of course cavemen had opinions too.

Lewis, Sinclair. “An American Views the Huns.” The Nation, Volume 121, Issue 3130: 19-20. Lewis, who defeated Creel for the Democratic nomination for governor of California in the 1934, writes sarcastically that “[d]uring the Great War I learned thoroughly at the skilled hands of Mr. George Creel that whatever the Germans were, they were brutal.”

Lippmann, Walter. “For a Department of State.” The New Republic (September 17, 1919), 20, no. 254: 194-97. A merciless attack on the State Department and its diplomats during the Great War by the philosofying pundit.

Lippmann, Walter. “Paul Kellogg Muckraked.” The New Republic 2, no. 16 (February 20, 1915): 60-61. [See Creel’s reply cited above.] Perhaps the first Lippmann attack on Creel, written anonymously, and the start of their antagonistic long-distance relationship (if they ever met face-to-face -- I've found no evidence that they did -- Creel, who liked to box, would perhaps have punched Lippmann in the nose; and Lippmann would have probably written a column about it).

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Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922. One of Lippmann’s most influential works. Provides strong evidence that, Plato-like, he was essentially anti-democratic.

Lippmann, Walter. “The Intimate Papers of Colonel House by Charles Seymour” [Review]. Foreign Affairs, 4, No. 3 (April 1926): 383-393. Interesting insights on how Lippmann thought Wilson viewed propaganda (negatively, according to Walter). But this review suggests that "policy-makers" (e.g., Lippmann with the Fourteen Points he helped draft) blamed the "propaganda" for not selling his -- Walter's -- Plans for the World.

Mock, James R. and Larson, Cendric. Words That Won the War: The Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1939. Despite the "outdated" date of its publication, this book is the most thorough account of the Committee of Public Information, based as it is on  on research of records at the National Archives. It's quite sympathetic to Creel, but is critical of his "censor" role. Mock/Larson thought that with a new global war coming, the USA should have a propaganda (in the best sense, as they saw it) federal agency. Arguably, though, "what won the war" -- or at least gained support from the American public for WWI  -- were not words, but images (poster, movies). Did not the mass dissemination of images, via posters and film, define early 20th century propaganda, especially in the U.S. and Russia?

Noah, Timothy. “The Rise of a Not-so-great Communicator: Charles Z. Wick, Entrepreneur.” The New Republic, 186, Issue 15 (April 14, 1920): 11-14. Mr. Zwick (such was his original name; he did not put a period after "Z"), one of Ronald Reagan's favorite courtesans. He and Creel had much in common, including flattering persons in power and being infatuated by images as a way of "communicating" -- dare I say "propagandizing."

O'Connell, Joseph. Letter to the New York Times, “U.S.I.A. Is Guardian Of Fulbright Program,” New York Times (June 27, 1986).

Osgood, Kenneth. “Propaganda,” Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy (2002). An admirable but perhaps overly "leftist" introduction to the subject, focusing on the United States. Ideal for a survey course on American propaganda -- in order to provoke students' thoughts on the matter. Has a good definition of propaganda: "Propaganda is usually, but not exclusively, concerned with public opinion and mass attitudes. The purpose of propaganda is to persuade—either to change or reinforce existing attitudes and opinions. Yet propaganda is also a manipulative activity. It often disguises the secret intentions and goals of the sponsor; it seeks to inculcate ideas rather than to explain them; and it aspires to modify or control opinions and actions primarily to benefit the sponsor rather than the recipient."

Osgood, Kenneth. Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2006. Propaganda replaced diplomacy as an instrument of foreign policy during the Cold War. Well, ok ... This dense book, hyped in its title about a "secret" activity, does not however read like a detective novel, although it has amusing passages, especially about dogs being the best ambassadors.

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Osipova, Yelena.Fulbright on USIA.” Global Chaos [blog] (January 11, 2012). Ms. Osipova discovered a document in the Fulbright archives at the University of Arkansas that was not complimentary of the USIA. It came to her as a surprise.

Paul Kellogg Muckracked.” The New Republic, 2, no. 16 (February 20, 1915): 60-61. With this article the Creel-Lippmann antagonism most probably began.

Plato. Gorgias. Athens, Greece: 380 B.C. :) No study of propaganda can begin without reading this gorgeous dialogue focusing on the tensions between rhetoric and philosophy. A must read for any course on public diplomacy that focuses on more than the immediate present or "strategic communications."

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Pope, Ellen Dittman. Pleasants County. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2009. According to the author, Creel’s grandfather, Alexander Jerbet, saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary encouraging him to complete the foundation of the town on St. Marys on the now West Virginia side of the Ohio River. The Catholic background of Creel has been overlooked in much of the scholarly literature on the CPI.

Qualter, Terence H. Opinion Control in the Democracies. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985. One of the best treatments of propaganda in the scholarly literature that, regrettably, is seldom mentioned.

Ross, Stewart Halsey. Propaganda for War: How the United States Was Conditioned to Fight the Great War of 1914-1918. Joshua Tree, Calif.: Progressive Press, 2009). Another neglected work in the scholarly literature. Contains valuable information (based on archival research) on the creation of the CPI and on the Creel-Lippmann antagonistic relationship. Ross condemns Creel as "a narrow-thinking opportunist, always willing to compromise his diminishing bag of marketable ideals for expediency's sake."

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Salmon, Christian. Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind. London and New York: Verso, 2010. "Even though ... this book adopts a very critical stance when it looks at the ways in which narratives are explicitly used to conceal or distort the truth ... my intention is not to liken all these narrative practices to mere propaganda, but to identify what is at stake in them, the ways in which they operative and their specific effects." Given that Creel spoke of the "amazing story" of the CPI's work, this book is an important element in the literature on the CPI.

Snyder, Alvin A.
Warriors of Disinformation: How Charles Wick, the Usia, and Videotape Won the Cold War. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2012. When one reads this book one cannot help but sense the similarities between USIA director Charles Z Wick (he did not place a period after his middle initial) and Creel. The book also reminded me of the remark by an American ambassador regarding the country (let it be unmentioned) where he was serving: "[In this place] truth is whatever you can get away with." He of course was not speaking of the United States -- but could he have been (?).

Sproule, J. Michael. Propaganda and Democracy: The American Experience of Media and Mass Persuasion. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. An enlightening account of the historical background to the establishment of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (1937-1942), which sought to educate the American public about the dangers and duplicity of propaganda. The book lacks a bibliography.

Steel, Ronald. Walter Lippmann and the American Century. Boston and Toronto: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1980. A magnificent work of scholarship, based on many unpublished sources, that is thus far the definitive biography (without glorifying him) of Lippmann. But it will not quite resurrect Lippmann from the ashheap of history -- which evidently was its intention.

Steel, Ronald. “Walter Lippmann: Journalist and Historian.” Society 36, no. 5 (July/August 1999): 77-79. A good summary of Steel's evaluations of Lippmann, like them or not.

Stolberg, Benjamin. “Walter Lippmann, Connoisseur of Public Life.” The Nation, 235, no. 3257 (December 7, 1927): 639-642. Worth a look, especially regarding Lippmann's Platonic tendencies.

Stone, I. D. “Creel’s Crusade” [Review of Monk and Larson’s Words That Won the War]. The Nation, 149, no. 24: 647-649. Perhaps the best short evaluation of Creel and his CPI work. Recommended for any college course pertaining to the subject. Stone: “One learns from the Creel story that the idealists are as necessary as brass bands in war time. One also learns that the idealists tend to suffer from the delusion that they are running the war, when it is the war that is running them.”

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Taylor, Philip M. Munitions of the Mind: War Propaganda from the Ancient World to the Nuclear Age. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: P. Stephens, 1990. An informative, workmanlike historical survey of propaganda, unmarked by subtlety, that does not delve into its moral or philosophical implications.

The Committee on Public Information [CPI]. The Activities of the Committee on Public Information. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1918. Assuming that the CPI told the truth (including regarding the statistics it cites), this is an indispensable resource to its activities.

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian. Public Diplomacy, World War I. Foreign Relations, 1917–1972. After some hundred years, the State Department has finally condescended to acknowledge, for the historical record, that public diplomacy is in America's national interest -- and most important, for all public diplomacy's faults, part of America's past. These documents are online.

Vaughn, StephenHolding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Meticulous and thoughtful scholarship, based on archival research that provides valuable data about the origins, organization, and programs of the CPI. In many ways surpasses the Mock and Larson volume (see above).

Vaughn, Stephen “Prologue to Public Opinion: Walter Lippmann’s Work in Military Intelligence,” Prologue (Fall 1983): 151-163. An insightful historical footnote on Lippmann's short service with the Military Intelligence Branch, in France during which Walter made sure he spent time in Paris (see above).

Viereck, George Sylvester. Spreading Germs of Hate; with a foreword by Colonel Edward M. House. London: Duckworth, 1931. Viereck, a German-American who was editor of the pro-German paper The Fatherland, was an astute commentator on propaganda, which he also -- sadly -- practiced in support of Nazism. His work is seldom cited, perhaps because of his admiration for Hitler in his later years. It is quite intriguing that House, who played a significant role in the implementation of USG propaganda in WWI as a very pro-British adviser to Wilson, should have written a foreword to a book by a German-American more than just sympathetic for Germany during the Great War. The second edition of the book did not contain House’s foreword. Why this was the case would be an interesting subject for a historical footnote.

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Winkler, Henry. The Politics of Propaganda: The Office of War Information, 1942-1945 (Yale Historical Publications: Miscellany, 118). New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. Still the best account of the OWI.

Wolper Gregg. The Origins of Public Diplomacy; Woodrow Wilson, George Creel, and the Committee on Public Information [unpublished dissertation]. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1991. A detailed and largely sympathetic treatment of CPI activities in parts of Europe: “[B]y creating an developing the [CPI’s] Foreign Section Creel performed a remarkable feat” (p. 347). Note: Creel was castigated when he was Chairman of the CPI not so much for his organization's overseas work as for his domestic propaganda/censorship. Lippmann was (to the best of my knowedge) one of the few contemporary critics of the CPI's work abroad.

Wolper, Gregg. “Wilsonian Public Diplomacy: The Committee on Public Information in Spain.” Diplomatic History, 17, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 17-34. An excellent, detailed “case study” of the CPI’s overseas operations. More such studies are needed to evaluate the CPI’s overseas impact; the focus on the scholarly literature has been on its domestic programs.

Wolper, Gregg. “Woodrow Wilson’s New Diplomacy: Vira Whitehouse in Switzerland, 1918.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration 24, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 227-239. A masterly “slice of life” account of a CPI operative and her travails with State Department functionaries. Whitehouse’s observations about turf-conscious Foggy Bottom male diplomats has a contemporary (or at least late twentieth-century) ring to it. The article, focusing on one person, is a perfect work of petite histoire with much wider implications.

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