The IAMHIST Council and the editorial board of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2022 Culbert Family Book Prize for publications on media history dealing with propaganda is John Maxwell Hamilton for Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda (Louisiana State UP, 2021).
The comprehensive book deals with the cultural history of pervasive, systematic propaganda as an instrument of the state that evolved from the establishment of the Committee on Public Information (CPI) by the Woodrow Wilson administration on 14 April 1917 around the time the US entered the Great War. As author John Maxwell Hamilton argues: ‘Every element of the Information State has antecedents in the CPI’. The international jury members of IAMHIST film historians (Professor James Chapman, UK, Professor Leen Engelen, Belgium, and Professor Tobias Hochscherf, Germany) were impressed by the splendidly researched and wide-ranging book on the cradle of modern propaganda. The study not only fleshes out the ‘mechanics’ behind propaganda, it also explains how propaganda functions within a democracy, often seriously challenging the very system it seeks to protect. The author and LSU Press ought to be congratulated for this book that marshalled a wealth of archive sources to make a genuinely new contribution to the field. It is lucidly written and provides a compelling narrative that will be of interest beyond just the field of propaganda histories. Since Manipulating the Masses invites future research and engagement with its findings, the book promotes the ongoing scholarly engagement with attempts to win the heart and mind of people through information policies and propaganda that shape our world to this day.
David H. Culbert (1943-2017) was a diligent media historian. More than anything else, his scholarly interest was the research on the history of propaganda, information policy and mass persuasion. He was John L. Loos Professor of History at Louisiana State University, an active IAMHIST council member and editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television from 1992 to 2012.
The book prize for publications on media history dealing with propaganda, mass persuasion and public opinion is awarded on behalf of the Culbert family for outstanding works looking at the history of ways in which media, public opinion, politics and diplomacy interact. The $2,500 prize is awarded biennially. The prize has been established by an endowment from Lubna Culbert.