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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  5,783 ratings  ·  664 reviews
“Bernays’ honest and practical manual provides much insight into some of the most powerful and influential institutions of contemporary industrial state capitalist democracies.”—Noam Chomsky

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism
Paperback, 168 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Ig Publishing (first published 1928)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  5,783 ratings  ·  664 reviews

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Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bernays argues that the manipulation of public opinion is necessary for a stable and well functioning society. I found just about every paragraph of this book to be disturbing... especially considering how much power and influence he had during his lifetime - remembered as "the father of public relations". Five stars because this is the kind of stuff you aren't taught in history class.

"THE systematic study of mass psychology revealed to students the potentialities of invisible government of soci
Keyo Çalî
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Whatever and however you think about propaganda, will be completely changed after you read this short book. It is written 92 years ago, but still the concepts and the structure of what we today know as propaganda haven't changed. What tools they use to do it, how they do it, what platforms and mechanisms they use… none of these matters much, it is the propaganda itself that works. They had newspapers, radios, and TVs, now they have Facebook and Twitter, they have YouTube and Goodreads… now they
Mario the lone bookwolf
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it

Laying of the foundation stone for manipulation techniques for politics, business, and interest groups

This work, first published in 1928 by the guru of public relations work, seems deeply strange in that it offers the foundations for directing and influencing people to an interested public from business and politics.

Initially, the chapters were written in industry journals and potential clients, and peppered with examples from the author's remarkable career. However, concerning optimizati
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
His Master's Voice

'We Can Do It!' (aka Rosie the Riveter) Propaganda Poster, J. Howard Miller, 1943

'Daisy' Political Advertisement for LBJ, 1964


This textbook has been written by one of the fathers of PR, marketing and mass advertisement.

In this essay, Sigmund Freud's nephew develops the applications of propaganda in various fields, something he terms right away as 'The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses' and assesses it as 'an i
Stefania Dzhanamova
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
While no single person can be exclusively credited for the rise of advertising in American life, no one deserves credit more than a man most of us have never heard of: Edward Bernays – the 20th century' foremost salesman of ideas and the nephew of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Often referred to as the father of public relations, Bernays published his essential work, Propaganda, in 1928, a book both scary and eye-opening. In it he concisely and confidently preaches his philosophy o ...more
Craig Werner
Sep 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
There's nothing quite like this. An absolutely unapologetic argument in favor of propaganda as the key tool available to the elite who form the "invisible government" directing the course of modern society. Published in 1928, the book is an attempt to rehabilitate "propaganda" as a nece3ssary and ultimately benevolent part of a democratic society. While that attempt failed in the narrow sense--it was running an uphill battle in the wake of WW I with Hitler and Stalin just down the road--Bernays ...more
Michael Perkins
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
if you don't have time to read the entire book, this essay captures the essence of it and the influence of Bernays on Joseph Goebbels....



“The rational brain is not good at being rational, but instead is good at simply rationalizing what the emotional brain has already decided to do, and this happens non-consciously.”

An expert concisely breaks down an example of the propaganda techniques of Tucker Carlson. He repeatedly quotes Putin to support h
The fact that I am struggling to come up with a rating for this book, because I feel extremely ambivalent about its contents, doesn't mean it is not a book that shouldn't be read. It's an extremely important history book for anyone interested in how society really works... ...more
Eric G.
I give this book no stars because it is a chilling read into the virtual manifesto of who some have labeled as the "father of modern public relations." In this book, Bernays hails 'the engineering of consesnt,' as new and glorious process that has been enabled with the advent of new and technological innovation. With such tools, as Bernays argues, it will be easier and more necessary to augment the minds of the masses in order to seperate the realm of politics and social life. The 'engineering o ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
"The invisible, intertwining structure of groupings and associations is the mechanism by which democracy has organised it's group mind and simplified its mass thinking"

"The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world today. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions"
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
You'll hardly find anything new in this book. Well, the author's opinion may surprising to a certain extent. He's one of the fathers of PR (a term he used instead of propaganda, because the latter word had acquired some negative connotations after the War) and he seems steel confident that propaganda is an absolutely necessary tool in a democratic society. His honesty and apparent naiveness are what make the book worth reading. He shows how propaganda is and must be used in business, politics, e ...more
howl of minerva
"THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

"We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. [...] They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and
Roberta Parry
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was originally published in 1928, with a new edition in 2005 with an added introduction by Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at NYU, known for his writing on American media and his activism on behalf of democratic media reform. It's quite possibly the best part of this book, which gives the basic tenants of the positive and negative aspects of propaganda since its first use in World War I. These basic tenants boil down to the disturbing but not unknown means by which "pub ...more
Billie Pritchett
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Edward Bernays' book Propaganda is about public relations (PR). Bernays invented PR, but in this book it is called by a more honest name: 'propaganda'. In the old days, propaganda just meant what modern-day PR means: advocating on behalf of an organization (or government or business) and explaining and justifying the institution to the public.

Here are some choice quotes from Bernays' book:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an importan
Griffin Wilson
A famous work, wherein Mr. Bernays paints a very rosy picture of propaganda as the way by which benevolent politicians, businessmen, artists, and educators facilitate the opinions of the masses for the good of all.

I personally have learned more about this topic from assorted case studies and other thinkers (notably Le Bon, Nietzsche, etc.), and found this work to be somewhat of a disappointment that did not match the expectations that many others have thrust upon it. However, still worth reading
Michelle Curie
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realise that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos."

Propaganda is a loaded term. And not many associations we have with it today are positive - it makes us think of politicians trying to get your vote, companies trying to get your purchase. But in Propaganda, Edward L. Bernays examines the origins and functions of a concept that he sees as the fundamental part o
Dec 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Bernays is popularly known (sometimes in competition with Ivy Lee) as the "father of public relations," and PROPAGANDA is a large part of why. It's a wholly enthusiastic and spirited call for business leaders and politicians of the 1920s to shape the mind (singular, not plural) of the masses. I suspect that it's the sheer shameslessness of Bernays's attitude toward his subject that is the reason contemporary critics like Mark Crispin Miller, Neil Postman, and Stewart Ewen keep discussing him. (N ...more
Alkek Library
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
In a modern mass democracy, the elite cannot force the serfs to accept unpopular or unproven ideas. Therefore, the elite has the problem of governing the rabble in a mass democracy.

So, the elite promotes and shapes information to influence the desires of the masses - thereby garnering the consent of the governed. The masses may even believe themselves to be the source of societal, economic or political change.

I think the takeaway for you is to consider the role of information in a society and wh
Kevin K
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Bernays came to my attention through Adam Curtis' fascinating documentary The Century of the Self. I wanted to learn more, so I picked up this book. Mostly, these are quaint reflections on the rise of public relations in American commerce in the post-WWI period. Mixed in, however, are some disturbing truths on the power of propaganda to control the masses.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I didn`t believe Propiganda was real till I read this easy to read Book on Controling human beings minds Withouth their Knowledge. This book is the most powerful book on mind control of the masses ever allowed to be seen by the public. It is a tool all governments and Cororations aspire to. It is all about Controling others without their knowledge. The writer I feel was a sociopathic if not psychopathic manipulator, people like this writer are why we are killing off one another...yep another gre ...more
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

This book is propaganda for propaganda - metapropaganda - but didn't teach me how to detect, disseminate, or analyze propaganda. Bernays uses propaganda in the old, value-neutral sense of propagating an idea. Put this through the media using mass psychology and you have his 'New Propaganda' - public relations.
Dec 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: wetenschap
Propaganda has a negative connotation, but for no reason according to Bernays. It is just to propagate a particular doctrine using a consistent, enduring effort to create events to gain public support for a specific idea, enterprise or group. It was first used during WW I referring to Huns and German barbarism to discredit the enemy in Berlin. After the war, it was applied for business purposes too, in corporate ads.

The author cites Gustave Le Bon's "Psychologie des foules" that studies herding
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great short read. Author Edward Bernays is often regarded as the father of propaganda. He felt that propaganda was a laudable and necessary component of democratic government.
The book begins with a great introduction by Mark Crispin Miller. Miller talks a bit about Bernays; he was almost single handedly responsible for the relatively new trend of women smoking, a topic which is covered in more detail in Adam Curtis's documentary "The Century of the Self". He was also almost solely res
Aug 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Written in 1928, it didn't stand the test of time, in my opinion.

The book is a basic primer on advertising, campaigning, and public relations for a 1920s audience, including a lot of about the ethics of public relations. It's informing that audience about the basics of advertising and manipulation of public opinion so they can (in modern terms) be woke to its effects. Despite the aggressive red-text and fist-punching modern cover, it's more about toothpaste than fascism; the modern equivalent w
Will Robinson Jr.
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A well documented look into the history of propaganda and its application in society. It is very riveting read that raises so many questions about the forces what we think, eat, and wear today. The process of how propaganda influences public opinion was clearly explain well by Bernays. I was a bit surprise to find out propaganda's benign origins. Which just shows that all good ideas start off harmless enough but ultimately it is our dark nature that corrupts them. I really enjoyed the book. I th ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Published in 1928, Propaganda is a presentation of Edward Bernays' ideas on how communication of information between the individual and the group should operate in a society. Bernays' central premise is that the tastes and preferences of a society's populace should be guided by a minority group through public relations. The basis of these public relations is 'propaganda', a term Bernays defends throughout to simply mean 'promotion of a viewpoint'. Unfortunately for him, the term had gained negat ...more
Jacek Bartczak
It is difficult for me to rate that book. In "The fish that ate the whale" I read about a couple of examples of Edward Bernays's work: how his tactics/strategies influenced international politics and consumer habits in the US market. I wasn't sure whether he was a genius or a devil. Or both. Edward Bernays was also an uncle of Marc Randolph - founder of Netflix. Edward Bernays's uncle was Sigmund Freud. What a family line! 

Effects of Bernays' work made a huge impression on me, but his book didn'
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was led to believe, in school that is, that we function under the umbrella-term within 'a representative democracy'. That we, the populace, decide what we want and that then this decision is neutered on down to our representatives, for better or worse.
That we, me, I, you...we decide' and we decide as individuals within a whole, because majority rule is better then authoritarian rule.
This book, which deals in historical fact concerning America and it's democratic suppositions, reports that in
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know it is fundamental, but i found it sounding more like a textbook, rather than a book. I guess this makes sense, since it was written almost a century ago, even before we saw the real propaganda machines of the Third Reich and Communism in action.
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“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” 381 likes
“Men (people) are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions.” 75 likes
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