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Radio Goes to War is the first comprehensive and in-depth look at the role of domestic radio in the United States during the Second World War. As this study convincingly demonstrates, radio broadcasting played a crucial role both in government propaganda and within the context of the broader cultural and political transformations of wartime America. Gerd Horten's absorbing narrative argues that no medium merged entertainment, propaganda, and advertising more effectively than radio. As a result, America's wartime radio propaganda emphasized an increasingly corporate and privatized vision of America's future, with important repercussions for the war years and the postwar era. Examining radio news programs, government propaganda shows, advertising, soap operas, and comedy programs, Horten situates radio wartime propaganda in the key shift from a Depression-era resentment of big business to the consumer and corporate culture of the postwar period.
Introduction: Radio and the Privatization of War
PART I. RADIO NEWS, PROPAGANDA, AND POLITICS DURING WORLD WAR II
Chapter 1: Radio News, Propaganda, and Politics: From the New Deal to World War II
Chapter 2: Uneasy Persuasion: Government Radio Propaganda, 1941-1943
Chapter 3: Closing Ranks: Propaganda, Politics, and Domestic Foreign-Language Radio
PART II. SELLING THE WAR TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: RADIO ENTERTAINMENT AND ADVERTISING
Chapter 4: The Rewards of Wartime Radio Advertising
Chapter 5: "Radio Propaganda Must Be Painless": The Comedians Go to War
Chapter 6: "Twenty Million Women Can't Be Wrong": Wartime Soap Operas
Epilogue: The Privatization of America
Gerd Horten is Associate Professor of American History at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.
"By focusing on the medium of radio during World War II, Horten has provided us with a window into an important change in radio broadcasting that has previously been ignored by historians. The depth of research, the book's contribution to our understanding of radio and the war make Radio Goes to War an outstanding work."—Lary May, author of The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way
"Radio broadcasting, and its impact on American life, still remains a neglected area of our national history. Radio Goes to War demonstrates conclusively how short-sighted that omission is. As we enter what is sure to be another era of contested claims of government control over freedom of speech, the controversies and compromises of wartime broadcasting sixty years ago provide an ominous example of difficult decisions to be made in the future. The alliance of big business, advertising, and wartime propaganda that Horten so convincingly illuminates takes on a heightened significance, especially as this relationship has tightened in the last several decades. When radio and television go to war again, will they follow the same course? This is cautionary reading for our new century."—Michele Hilmes, author of Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922-1952