Total Cold War
Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad
Winner: Herbert Hoover Book Award
When President Dwight Eisenhower spoke of waging "total cold war," he was proposing nothing less than a global, all-embracing battle for hearts and minds. His wide-ranging propaganda campaign challenged world communism at every turn and left a lasting mark on the American psyche.
“Osgood has written probably the best book to date on any aspect of U.S. Cold War propaganda. Although it focuses on the Eisenhower administration, Osgood draws provocative conclusions that resonate well beyond the specific parameters of his study. . . . He makes a very strong case for the importance of propaganda not only to Eisenhowers foreign policy-making, but to the Presidents conception of international relations more generally.”
—Pacific Historical Review
“Osgoods penetrating analysis is the work of an astute and accomplished historian; it is also an opportune and powerful reminder that ignoring history can have painful consequences.”
—American Historical ReviewSee all reviews...
“A well-written and beautifully illustrated book that offers valuable insights for those engaged in the global war on terrorism.”
—Journal of Military History
“Provocative and disturbing. . . . Deserves a wide audience.”
—Journal of American History
“[This book] not only offers an original and convincing interpretation of Eisenhower’s foreign policy, it also provides a much-needed synthesis of the literature on Cold War propaganda and psywar. As such, it deserves to be required reading in graduate seminars on the Cold War and modern U.S. foreign policy for a long time to come.”
—Journal of Cold War Studies
“A beautifully written and splendidly researched narrative of the Eisenhower administration’s global psychological offensive of the 1950s. Using primary sources from the National Archives, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, the USIA Archive, and other collections, Osgood does a marvelous job of distilling an enormous amount of documentation. . . . [He] provides a mountain of evidence to demonstrate the centrality of propaganda in the Cold War. . . . A strong addition to the historiography of American cultural diplomacy. It deserves a wide audience among scholars of the Cold War, the Eisenhower era, U.S. foreign relations, and psychological warfare.”
“Osgood demonstrates through well cited archival evidence how the U.S. government and its private partners influenced Cold War media discourse from reference book to media events. He not only masters the American diplomatic and political history of the Eisenhower years, but he also demonstrates a firm grasp of social psychology and communication history. It is a well written and important book for Cold War mass communication historians. . . . Osgood’s most valuable insights point to how propaganda, deliberately aimed abroad, pushed American society and culture toward officially desired patterns.”
“A significant contribution to an emerging body of scholarship on U.S. foreign policy and ‘political warfare,’ specifically reinterpreting the Eisenhower administration’s approach to conflict with the Soviet Union through initiatives linking diplomacy, propaganda, and economic power. . . . This book is impressive in its detail both at the strategic and administrative levels.”
—International History Review
“This first-rate book treats the Eisenhower Administration’s Cold War propaganda program. It is at one level an institutional study of the United States Information Agency, but focusing on the wider context of ‘psywar,’ it also covers an array of other efforts to execute Ike’s intent to wage ‘total cold war,’ including such steely applications of power as the coups in Iran and Guatemala. . . . This book delivers admirably on both coverage and interpretation. . . . The author shows conclusively the Eisenhower administration’s fixation on public relations, and he documents the effectiveness of a number of these campaigns. . . . This book is a nuanced, thoughtful, and rewarding study grounded in admirably exhaustive research.”
“Osgood persuasively argues that President Dwight David Eisenhower emphasized the importance of psychological considerations in a conflict that he perceived as no less ‘total’ than World War II. . . . Osgood’s ability to show Eisenhower’s comprehensive conception of propaganda is illuminating. . . . Osgood forces his readers to reconsider Eisenhower’s cold war strategy within the context of ‘total war.’ He also provides them with a tool for evaluating America’s struggle for hearts and minds today.”
—History: Reviews of New Books
“An invaluable study of the Eisenhower administration’s efforts to win the hearts and minds of humankind during the turbulent decade of the 1950s.”
—Melvyn P. Leffler, author of A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War
“Sheds new light on Eisenhower’s efforts to shape opinions at home as well as abroad, in the free as well as the communist worlds.”
—Michael J. Hogan, author of A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945–1954
“A highly informative, suavely argued, conscientiously researched, and articulate book.”
—Stephen J. Whitfield, author of The Culture of the Cold War
“A superb and convincing book.”
—Mark Kramer, Director, Cold War Studies Center, Harvard University
“Osgood’s path-breaking book could not be more relevant today. Elegantly written and powerfully argued, it belongs on the shelf of core texts for understanding U.S. foreign relations.”
—Timothy Naftali, director, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
“Absorbing and readable.”
—Emily Rosenberg in the Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsSee fewer reviews...
Kenneth Osgood now chronicles the secret psychological warfare programs America developed at the height of the Cold War. These programs—which were often indistinguishable from CIA covert operations—went well beyond campaigns to foment unrest behind the Iron Curtain. The effort was global: U.S. propaganda campaigns targeted virtually every country in the free world.
Total Cold War also shows that Eisenhower waged his propaganda war not just abroad, but also at home. U.S. psychological warfare programs blurred the lines between foreign and domestic propaganda with campaigns that both targeted the American people and enlisted them as active participants in global contest for public opinion.
Osgood focuses on major campaigns such as Atoms for Peace, People-to-People, and cultural exchange programs. Drawing on recently declassified documents that record U.S. psychological operations in some three dozen countries, he tells how U.S. propaganda agencies presented everyday life in America to the world: its citizens living full, happy lives in a classless society where economic bounty was shared by all. Osgood further investigates the ways in which superpower disarmament negotiations were used as propaganda maneuvers in the battle for international public opinion. He also reexamines the early years of the space race, focusing especially on the challenge to American propagandists posed by the Soviet launch of Sputnik.
Perhaps most telling, Osgood takes a new look at President Eisenhower's leadership. Believing that psychological warfare was a potent weapon in America's arsenal, Ike appears in these pages not as a disinterested figurehead, as he's often been portrayed, but as an activist president who left a profound mark on national security affairs.
Osgood's distinctive interpretation places Cold War propaganda campaigns in the context of an international arena drastically changed by the communications revolution and the age of mass politics and total war. It provides a new perspective on the conduct of public diplomacy, even as Americans today continue to grapple with the challenges of winning other hearts and minds in another global struggle.