New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Wars Are Easily Sold to Americans When Presidents Push the Right Marketing Buttons, New NYU Book Concludes

October 16, 2007
N-111, 2007-08

Americans are always in a buying mood when U.S. presidents sell them a war using the latest marketing and media manipulation techniques, according to a new book by two New York University professors. In Selling War to America: From the Sinking of the Maine to the Global War on Terror (Praeger), co-authors Eugene Secunda and Terence P. Moran conclude that while the U.S. public may sometimes experience buyer remorse after a war has begun, American presidents have had little difficulty in persuading the public to engage in the wars they chose to fight for the past ten decades.

Secunda and Moran’s historical analysis of how wars are sold by U.S. administrations and bought by the American people reveals that a majority of Americans are more than willing to buy a war, if it is properly packaged and skillfully marketed, and whenever they can be persuaded that their national honor or security is being challenged. The authors note that Americans were eager to go to war with Spain in 1898 to fulfill Manifest Destiny-an American Empire in North and South America and across the Pacific Ocean. They also contend that the U.S. invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 were largely endorsed by the American public when the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush spoke of a national security threat.

“Winston Churchill said that for war to be waged, it must be done behind a ‘bodyguard of lies,’ ” said Stuart Ewen, Distinguished Professor Ph.D. Programs in History and Sociology, The CUNY Graduate Center Dept. of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College, CUNY. “Selling War to America provides a detailed look at the way this premise has been adhered to by American leaders for more than a century. Today, with our nation mired in a war that was spawned by a remarkably cynical campaign of toxic salesmanship, this book is of particular importance.”

Secunda, an adjunct professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, is an Army veteran and was a senior executive at J. Walter Thompson and other advertising and public relations agencies. Terence P. Moran, a retired U.S. marine who still recruits for the Marine Corps., is a professor at NYU’s Steinhardt School.

Reporters wishing to speak with Secunda or Moran should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808. Request for review copies should be directed to Laura Mullen, Greenwood Publications, at laura.mullen@greenwood.com or 203.226.3571, x3356.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Type: Press Release

Selling War to America: From the Sinking of the Maine to the Global War on Terror (Praeger, Sept. 2007)

Selling War to America: From the Sinking of the Maine to the Global War on Terror (Praeger, Sept. 2007)


Search News



NYU In the News

Paying It Backward: NYU Alum Funds Scholarships

The Wall Street Journal profiled Trustee Evan Chesler on why he decided to chair the Momentum fund-raising campaign.

A Nobel Prize Party: Cheese, Bubbles, and a Boson

The New Yorker talked to Professor Kyle Cranmer and graduate student Sven Kreiss about NYU’s role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, which resulted in a Nobel prize for the scientists who predicted its existence.

The World as They Knew It

The New York Times reviewed the exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on how ancient Greeks and Romans mapped the known and unknown areas of their world.

Elite Institutions: Far More Diverse Than They Were 20 Years Ago

NYU made stronger gains over the last 20 years in increasing diversity than any other major research university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Program Seeks to Nurture ‘Data Science Culture’
at Universities

The New York Times reported on the multi-million collaboration among NYU and two other universities to harness the potential of Big Data, including an interview with Professor Yann LeCun, director of NYU’s Center for Data Science.

NYU Footer