Propaganda Art Book

Propaganda: Truth and Lies in Times of Conflict

 

Edited by Tony Husband

 

This book is a collection of propaganda posters. The work included is mostly World War I, and World War II propaganda. Most of the posters are either from Germany, Britain, Russia or America.

It is an interesting collection, and the examples are presented in a really nice way. The paper quality is good, which means that the images are printed out in high quality. The captions are very helpful, they explain the narrative and background of each image, and sometimes they include translations for important slogans.

I feel that this book is really pro – west. It doesn’t include many posters on wars and crimes which the Allies perpetrated. It does make a mention of some of them, but they are brief. For example, there is only one poster which makes a reference to the atrocities Britain committed during the Boer War. There aren’t many posters from Asia, which is disappointing. I would have liked to see a variety.

The book also has some really nice early examples. There is a print of Martin Luther as “Satan’s Bagpipe” during the Reformation which I think is a really interesting example. It is fascinating to see propaganda used so early on by people, that, if the book writes the truth, was originally a concept developed by the Catholic Church to spread its faith.

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(“Propaganda war between Catholic Church and Protestants. […] Martin Luther spoke frequently of the devil and in this 16th century engraving he is mocked as Satan’s bagpipe, with the devil playing him like a musical instrument. Pg 18)

There were many interesting things in the book, I just wish there was more of it. It feels like a really biased collection – it is clear that not every propaganda poster can be published but the list of images in this book feels very meticulously handpicked.

Most of the propaganda posters published of the Allies are the “good” posters published by the Allies at the time to promote their war effort.  The posters of the Axis powers were only negative. I am not trying to swing towards one side or the other, but it would just be nice to see both sides.

Considering the fact that I am writing my thesis about Japan, and trying to figure out their outlook on the war before, during and after, it would have been nice to see some examples of Japanese portrayal of the west. Instead, all I got was images depicting Japan from the western perspective.

I hoped this book would show me the hidden propaganda posters that I’ve never seen before, but most of these seem typical. Some are shocking, and some are interesting, but for the most part they are much of the same. I just had higher hopes for this book, and it let me down a bit with the content.

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