Mark Danner

What Orwell Didn’t Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics

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Published by Public Affairs, November 2007. Edited by Andras Szanto and with an introduction by Orville Schell.

Includes Mark Danner’s essay “Words in a Time of War: On Rhetoric, Truth and Power.”



Propaganda. Manipulation. Spin. Control. It has ever been thus — or has it? On the eve of the 60th anniversary of George Orwell’s classic essay on propaganda (Politics and the English Language), writers have been invited to explore what Orwell didn’t — or couldn’t — know. Their responses, framed in pithy, focused essays, range far and wide: from the effect of television and computing, to the vast expansion of knowledge about how our brains respond to symbolic messages, to the merger of journalism and entertainment, to lessons learned during and after a half-century of totalitarianism. Together, they paint a portrait of a political culture in which propaganda and mind control are alive and well (albeit in forms and places that would have surprised Orwell). The pieces in this anthology sound alarm bells about the manipulation and misinformation in today’s politics, and offer guideposts for a journalism attuned to Orwellian tendencies in the 21st century.