The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations

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9780517704356: The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations

The Father of Spin is the first full-length biography of the legendary Edward L. Bernays, who, beginning in the 1920s, was one of the first and most successful practitioners of the art of public relations. This book tells of Bernays's great campaigns, including: His precedent-setting work for the American Tobacco Company, climaxed by a parade of cigarette-smoking debutantes down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday that recast smoking as an act of liberation for women, helped convince a generation of women to light up, and made headlines from coast to coast. He transformed the color green into an American favorite to blend in with the green of the Lucky Strike package, and he convinced weight-conscious women that a cigarette was just the thing to substitute for a sweet. And he did it all without anyone knowing his client was behind it.

How he and his client the United Fruit Company helped engineer the overthrow of the socialist regime in Guatemala in the 1950s.

How he borrowed ideas from his uncle Sigmund Freud to push people to buy products they didn't need and to shape the way they perceived issues and the very way they believed.
And what Bernays did for tobacco and fruit peddlers, he also did for politicians, including Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

In The Father of Spin, Boston Globe reporter Larry Tye, drawing on interviews with primary sources and voluminous private papers, presents a fascinating and revealing portrait of the man who, more than any other, defined and personified public relations, a profession that today helps shape our political discourse and define our commercial choices.

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Review:

Biographer Larry Tye can't help but be entertained by his subject's professional antics. Edward L. Bernays (1892-1995), a pioneering practitioner of public relations, zestfully ballyhooed his clients, utilizing a shrewd blend of publicity stunts, careful cultivation of the press, and solicited endorsements from "experts." Yet journalist Tye is also aware of the moral ambiguities inherent in the career of a man who vigorously promoted cigarette smoking and whose work for the United Fruit Company played at least some role in the 1954 military overthrow of Guatemala's democratically elected government. This judicious book balances appreciation for Bernays' inventiveness with a sober understanding of its consequences, including the extent to which PR permeates contemporary American life. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

"For the vast punditocracy who think they created spin and the chattering classes who disdain what they think is a modern phenomenon, Larry Tye provides the un-spun history of the father of it all. A must-read for the aforementioned and wannabe spinmasters."
--Mary Matalin, The Mary Matalin Show

"Edward L. Bernays spent his life discovering what made us tick and what would influence our behavior. Larry Tye examined Edward L. Bernays and lets us in on the answers he found. This is a book that helps us understand ourselves better."
--Bill Kovach, curator of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

"The Father of Spin is an important contribution to the early history of public relations in the United States. Larry Tye gives his readers an insightful account of Eddie Bernays's place in the shaping of that history as well as the man's immense capacity for self-aggrandizement."
--Loet A. Velmans, former chairman of Hill and Knowlton

"This book probes the ethics of public relations at a time when there is no more important question."        
--William D. Novelli, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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