Book Review: Weapons of Mass Dissemination: The Propaganda of War


May 22, 2012 Ephemera Society

Weapons of Mass Dissemination: The Propaganda of War
By Marianne Lamonaca and Sarah Schleuning
Leslie Sternlieb, Editor
96 Pages, $22
The Wolfsonian-Florida International University
1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

This striking soft-cover book with more than three dozen color plates was produced to accompany an exhibition at Wolfsonian-Florida International University on how combatants from many sides used propaganda, mainly ephemera, to stir the masses during World Wars I and II. Even after the exhibit is dismantled, the catalog will stand on its own.

The catalog contains essays on why warring governments in the 20th century placed such an emphasis on propaganda and mass communications to sway public opinion, and also on the design elements and language that all sides used to involve the public.

The exhibition includes posters, matchbooks, housewares, and even children's books and games, all designed to prepare the populace for war, encourage enlistment in the armed forces, set behavior standards ("Loose Lips Sink Ships!), and spur domestic production. The second half of the book looks at each image examining why the design elements and text are so effective.

The book also is available through the Wolfsonian's museum store (305.535.2680) or by e-mail (


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