The art of communicating with the people—public relations—is a notoriously messy business, involving a mixture of persuasion and selective editing, if not outright deception. The art of communicating with foreign publics—sometimes called public diplomacy—is even more fraught. The inherent contradiction in promoting freedom through propaganda is at the heart of Justin Hart’s new book, Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy. As Noah Berlatsky explains in his review, Hart’s book is a story of good intentions producing bad results.
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