LSU Professor John Maxwell Hamilton's 'Manipulating the Masses' Nationally Recognized, Wins AJHA Book of the Year

August 17, 2021

BATON ROUGE—LSU Professor of Journalism John Maxwell Hamilton’s book, “Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda,” has been selected as the American Journalism Historians Association’s (AJHA) 2021 Book of the Year winner. The award recognizes the best book in journalism history or mass media history published during the previous calendar year.

Earlier in the year, the book was awarded the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School's Goldsmith Book Prize.

This is Hamilton’s second AJHA Book of the Year Award, as well as his second Goldsmith Prize. He won both in 2010 for his book, “Journalism’s Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting.”

“This one is different,” Hamilton said, “in the sense that I hope that the award helps draw attention to the threat posed by government propaganda. It is a thorny subject, not easy to address effectively. But given the threat it poses to democracy, it cries out for attention from scholars and journalists.”

Published in October 2020 by LSU Press, “Manipulating the Masses” tells the story of the enduring threat to American democracy that arose out of World War I: the establishment of pervasive, systematic propaganda as an instrument of the state.

AJHA member Susan Swanberg described the book as “a brilliant exposé of the machinations of misbegotten missions of George Creel, his cronies, his Committee on Public Information and their impact on Woodrow Wilson.” AJHA member Dianne Bragg said the significance of this book “cannot be overstated,” and fellow member Patrick Filé described the book as “sweeping in scope but detailed in delivery.”

Hamilton is the founding dean of LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The longtime journalist, author and public servant has had assignments in more than 50 countries and has written extensively on foreign correspondence. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs and The Nation, among other publications.

The award follows other accolades this year for “Manipulating the Mases,” including the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's (AEJMC) History Division’s Book Award and the short list for the Montaigne Medal.

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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: Master of Mass Communication, Ph.D. in Media and Public Affairs, Certificate of Strategic Communication and a dual MMC/Law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.