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November 29, 2006

Five Ultimate Books on Public Relations

In addition to the following reading recommendations mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, check out the video interview where Neighbor, Geoff Livingston, shares his favorite authors and titles of one of his favorite past times.  Also, don't forget to preview Geoff sharing How to Create Buzz in the Marketplace.

On weekends, the Wall Street Journal lists the top 5 book choices from a celebrated guest.  Last weekend, in the November 25-26, 2006 edition, WSJ featured the favorites of PR executive, Michael Kempner.  Here's a recast:

0970312598_propaganda01_1 Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, Liveright, 1928.  A seminal and controversial figure in the history of political thought and public relations, Edward Bernays (1891–1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he famously dubbed "engineering of consent." During World War I, he was an integral part of the U.S. Committee on Public Information (CPI), a powerful propaganda apparatus that was mobilized to package, advertise and sell the war to the American people as one that would "Make the World Safe for Democracy." The CPI would become the blueprint in which marketing strategies for future wars would be based upon.  [Amazon Editorial Review]

034536663801_american_hero American Hero, by Larry Beinhart, Pantheon, 1993.  "A funny, ingenious and outrageous political thriller joining Hollywood and the Bush administration in a revisionist fiction about the Gulf War." Los Angeles Times.

Once upon a time, there was a mean, dying GOP chairman named Lee Atwater who had the most brilliant, insane, frightening and do-able idea ever concocted to assure that his man, George Bush, would retain the office of the president of the United States. And the only man on the face of the earth who could pull of such an elaborate scheme was none other than the world's most celebrated Hollywood director.

It's a sure-fire hit! A joint D.C./L.A. production that will play not in movie theaters but on the nightly news! Of course, hundreds of thousands of "extras" will die . . . . But, hey, that's show biz! [Inside Flap Copy]

081297046201_the_eloquent_presidentThe Eloquent President, by Ronald C. White, Jr., Random House, 2005.  In The Eloquent President, historian Ronald C. White, Jr., examines Abraham Lincoln’s astonishing oratory and explores his growth as a leader, a communicator, and a man of deepening spiritual conviction. Examining a different speech, address, or public letter in each chapter, White tracks the evolution of Lincoln’s rhetoric from the measured tones of the First Inaugural to the immortal poetry of the Gettysburg Address. As he weighs the biblical cadences and vigorous parallel structures that make Lincoln’s rhetoric soar, White identifies a passionate religious strain that most historians have overlooked. It is White’s contention that, as president, Lincoln not only grew into an inspiring leader and determined commander in chief, but also embarked on a spiritual odyssey that led to a profound understanding of the relationship between human action and divine will. With grace and insight, White captures the essence of the four most critical years of Lincoln’s life and makes his great words live for our time in all their power and beauty.  [Amazon Review]

006097662401_thankyou_for_not_smoking Thank You for Not Smoking, by Christopher Buckley, Random House, 1994
"Nick Naylor had been called many things since becoming chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. But until now no one had actually compared him to Satan." They might as well have, though. "Gucci Goebbels," "yuppie Mephistopheles," and "death merchant" are just a few endearments Naylor has earned himself as the tobacco lobby's premier spin doctor. The hero of Thank You for Smoking does of course have his fans. His arguments against the neo-puritanical antismoking trends of the '90s have made him a repeat guest on Larry King, and the granddaddy of Winston-Salem wants him to be the anointed heir. Still, his newfound notoriety has unleashed a deluge of death threats.

Christopher Buckley's satirical gift shines in this hilarious look at the ironies of "personal freedom" and the unbearable smugness of political correctness. Bracing in its cynicism, Thank You for Smoking is a delightful meander off the beaten path of mainstream American ethics. And despite his hypertension-inducing, slander-splattered, morally bankrupt behavior--which leads one Larry King listener to describe him as "lower than whale crap"--you'll find yourself rooting for smoking's mass enabler. --Rebekah Warren, Amazon.com, Editorial Reviews

068480133701_alls_fair All's Fair, by Mary Matalin and James Carville, Random House, 1994.  The economy, stupid. Bimbo eruptions. Chicken George. These and other highlights of the 1993 presidential campaign are recounted here by those who crafted these buzzwords, or at least gave them the most "spin." Bush campaign director Matalin and Clinton strategist Carville intrigued the world with their cross-party-and some say heretical-dating during the campaign, but upon reading this book, you understand the sparks. Both are colorful and ambitious, and both love the rather arcane world of top-level political campaigning. However, there's little of their romance here (they married after the election). Their memoir is more a juicy compendium of political insider info. We learn how both campaigns felt about Ross Perot; whether Clinton is really as testy as Bob Woodward says (Carville briefly describes Clinton's habit of SMO, or Standard Morning Outburst); and what Barbara Bush is really like (she's the only one who could stop the Bush campaign team from its ingrained swearing). Still, it's hard not to suspect most of the testimony here-after all, these people are paid to "stay on the message," even if it's untrue. An ominous testament to the rise of "handler" style over substance, this book is for all political collections.
--Judy Quinn, formerly with "Library Journal"


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