by Chad R. Fulwider
Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 2016. Pp. xii, 274.
Illus., maps, notes, index. $60.00. ISBN: 0826220584
German Efforts to Keep America Out of the Great War
Prof. Fulwider (Centenary College), takes a look at German efforts to manipulate public opinion in America towards neutrality in the Great War, and at Allied efforts at counter-propaganda. He examines how this battle of information and misinformation affected and involved not only U.S. policy, but also German-Americans and other Americans.
Fulwider’s basic argument is that German propaganda efforts were relatively ineffective for several reasons. Perhaps the most important of these was that the German diplomats managing the propaganda campaign seriously misunderstood American society and the nature of a popular democracy.
German propagandists had an inflated sense of the degree to which German-Americans were German, missing the fact that the community had become very Americanized, the community already becoming increasingly composed of second- and third-generation members. In addition, they greatly overestimated the extent to which German-Americans could influence American policy.
In addition, German propaganda efforts often lacked sophistication, at times being either too clumsy or too intellectual, and, of course, German efforts at sabotaging American industry didn’t help their cause. Fulwider also looks at how American anti-immigrant and jingoism affected German-Americans, which further reduced their influence on American policy.
This is interesting look at some of the factors that helped propel the United States into the war.
Note: German Propaganda and U.S. Neutrality in World War I is also available as an e-Book, ISBN 978-0-8262-7343-7