Library Journal

The hyperbolic modern world of mass culture, constant polling, and spin cycles got its start in the 1920s with the exploits of Edward Bernays the “father of public relations.” So claims Boston Globe journalist Tye. whose entertaining study combines a healthy jadedness about media manipulation with a fondness for his pioneer subject. Armed with a few of his uncle Sigmund Freud’s insights, Bernays stoked the (res of the mass id, “crystallizing public opinion” for 435 clients ranging from Enrico Caruso to General Electric, Calvin Coolidge to Ivory Soap. To encourage women to smoke publicly, he sent a parade of them puffing down Fifth Avenue on Easter 1929. He popularized the “expert” survey staged news events, planted stories, and created charitable-sounding business commissions. For the United Fruit Company in the 1950s he even helped topple the leftist government of Guatemala. Tye’s book ably follows Bernays’s ever-widening stunts, from his World War I enlistment work through the transforming decades to his death in 1995. Recommended for all history and business collections.

Nathan Ward