Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain. Monger, David (9781846318306). Hardback.

Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain. Monger, David (9781846318306). Hardback.

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The story of propaganda and patriotism in First World War Britain too often focuses on the clichés of Kitchener, ‘over by Christmas’ and the deaths of patriotic young volunteers at the Somme and elsewhere. A common assumption is that familiar forms of patriotism did not survive the war. However, the activities of the National War Aims Committee in 1917-18 suggest that propaganda and patriotism remained vigorous in Britain in the last years of the war. The NWAC, a semi-official Parliamentary organisation responsible for propaganda to counteract civilian war-weariness, produced masses of propaganda material aimed at re-stimulating civilian patriotism and yet remains largely unknown and rarely discussed. This book provides the first detailed study of the NWAC’s activities, propaganda and reception. It demonstrates the significant role played by the NWAC in British society after July 1917, illuminating the local network of agents and committees which conducted its operations and the party political motivations behind these. At the core of the book is a comprehensive analysis of the Committee’s propaganda. NWAC propaganda contained an underlying patriotic narrative which re-presented many familiar pre-war patriotic themes in ways that sought to encompass the experiences of civilians worn down by years of total war. By interpreting propaganda through the purposes it served, rather than the quantity of discussion of particular aspects, the book rejects common and reductive interpretations which depict propaganda as being mainly about the vilification of enemies. Through this analysis, the book makes a wider plea for deeper attention to the purposes behind patriotic language.

Reviews

'Impressively detailed, this book is a major, original and illuminating contribution to the scholarship of propaganda.'
Adrian Gregory

... the most radical element in this book is its emphasis on the continuity of national cohesion and consciousness in early 20th-century Britain.

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'Monger has been able to shed important light on a crucial propaganda organisation, existing during the last months of the war when the maintenance of morale had become so important, and successfully presents this in a fashion that would interest anyone concerned with the employment of propaganda in the early part of the 20th century.'
William Butler, Reviews in History

Monger has written an important book. The NWAC has lacked a balanced treatment. Patriotism and Propaganda in First World War Britain is a definitive study of the NWAC organization and the content of its propaganda.

Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 25, No. 3

'…the NWAC mattered, and was seen to matter. The same can, and should, be said of this monograph. Monger has written an interesting and original book on an important subject; this work deserves to become required reading not only for students of wartime propaganda, but for anyone interested in the nature of the wartime British state, or in the very idea of “patriotism” in modern Britain.'
Matthew Johnson, English Historical Review

'Monger has written an interesting and original book on an important subject; this work deserves to become required reading not only for students of wartime propaganda, but for anyone interested in the nature of the wartime British state, or in the very idea of ‘patriotism’ in modern Britain.'
Matthew Johnson, English Historical Review

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