Propaganda in War, 1939-1945

Michael Balfour
Date Published
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This was the first book to deal with both British and German propaganda during the Second World War, both as regards to what was said at home and what was said to the enemy. The author was well qualified for the task. Michael Balfour first worked in that part of the Ministry of Information which handled publicity on the home front. In 1942 he moved to the Political War Executive which directed propaganda to the enemy and enemy-occupied countries. His job there involved him in closely following German propaganda.

Many colourful characters, some of a very dubious mien, feature in these pages: Brendan Bracken, Richard Crossman, Sefton Delmer, Lord Haw-Haw and Hans Fritzsche. His handling of Goebbels is especially interesting, departing considerably from the usual stereotype. The second part of the book is a detailed analysis of the way the war news was handled on both sides: a curious set of distorted mirror-images of the main events emerges from the narrative. With his unique knowledge of the subject Michael Balfour was able to write an immensely impressive and stimulating book.


Michael Balfour (1908-1995) was a writer, historian and public servant. Educated at Rugby and Balliol College, Oxford, he held various senior civil servant posts before becoming Professor of European History at the University of East Anglia. He wrote nine books on modern history, three of which are being reissued in Faber Finds, The Kaiser and His Times, Propaganda in War,…

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