A Brit Propagandist and the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

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by Chris Rossini Economic Policy Journal

Recently by Chris Rossini: The Pearl Harbor ‘Surprise’

It has been brought to the attention of EPJ that a very interesting book was published in 1938 (<– notice the date) in London (<– notice the place). The book is titled Propaganda in the Next War and was written by Sidney Rogerson. Amazon.com has 1 used copy for sale…but it’ll cost you 335 US fiats.

So who is Sidney Rogerson? Well the dust jacket of the book states that he: “has been engaged in commercial propaganda for twenty years and is a leading authority on the subject.” A Google Search brought up the following:

  • Born 22nd of October 1894. 
  • Son of the Reverend S. Rogerson. 
  • B.A. in Modern History 1916; 
  • Served in the European War; 
  • Commissioned in the West Yorkshire Regiment 1916-1919. 
  • Demobilised in 1919. 
  • 1923-30 was Publicity Manager for the F.B.I (Federation of British Industry); 
  • Joined I.C.I (Imperial Chemical Industries) in 1930; 
  • Publicity Controller I.C.I Ltd., 1932-1952. 
  • Publicity and Public Relations Advisor to the Army Council, War Office, 
  • 1952-3-4. Hon. Col. 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division. 
  • Signals Regiment T.A., 1955.

With that kind of publicity experience, it appears that Rogerson was the Don King of British military propaganda. What’s interesting, is what Rogerson wrote on Page 148 of Propaganda in the Next War  that, again, was published in London…3 years before Pearl Harbor. Sidney Rogerson wrote: “Though we are not unfavourably placed, we shall require to do much propaganda to keep the United States benevolently neutral. To persuade her to take our part will be much more difficult, so difficult as to be unlikely to succeed. It will need a definite threat to America, a threat moreover, which will have to be brought home by propaganda to every citizen, before the republic will again take arms in an external quarrel. The position will naturally be considerably eased if Japan were involved and this might and probably would bring America in without further ado. At any rate, it would be a natural and obvious object of our propagandist to achieve this, just as during the Great War they succeeded in embroiling the United States with Germany.” EPJ has been told that there used to be a copy of this book in The Library of Congress, but it disappeared before WWII began: In any case, Pearl Harbor propaganda, like a dusty old book, has a long shelf life. We are now at the 71st Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and Americans still have the wool firmly placed over their eyes.

(Special thanks to Robert W. Reading for his contributions)

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

2012 Economic Policy Journal

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