Simona Tobia

Advertising America
The United States Information Service in Italy (1945-1956)

Collana: «Il Filarete. Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell’Università degli Studi di Milano» 255
16 x 23,5 cm – pagg. 324 - 2008 – € 39,00
ISBN 978-88-7916-400-9

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Recensioni / Segnalazioni Italradio - Rivista di radiofonia in lingua italiana - Anno V - n. 8 - inverno 2009
The American Historical Review - February 2011

SOMMARIO: List of abbreviations Introduction I. Wars of ideas: American international information services: 1. 25th February 1942: on the air – 2. Words as weapons – 3. A ‘full and fair picture’ of the United States II. Selling America to the Italian people: 1. From the Psychological Warfare Branch to the USIS – 2. Magazines and news bulletins in Rome – 3. «Radio all’ombra dei grattacieli»: voice of America’s production for Italy III. Witches fighting for the truth: 1. The creation of a new agency: the USIA – 2. From intelligence to propaganda: a new language for public diplomacy IV. «Show them that the red star points to slavery»: 1. Win over the working class to defeat the reds – 2. News and pictures for Italian readers – 3. «Packets» from the USA: appeal to families, but do not forget labour – 4. A radio set in every house? – 5. Nourish the American dream on shortwave – 6. Voice of America’s «Ora italiana» – 7. Let’s show them some figures: «Evidence of effectiveness» V. Seducing the intellectuals: 1. Clare Boothe Luce and the USIS’ turning point – 2. A magazine for intellectuals: Mondo Occidentale – 3. The USA goes to university – 4. Come see America: the cultural exchange programmes – 5. American voices on the RAI – 6. Conclusion: the limits of ‘Americanization’ Appendix I: USIA Foreign Service Lists for Italy Appendix II: voice of America’s scheduling in Italian: 1. VOA on short and medium wave, 1945-1949 – 2. Programmes aired with the RAI, 1945-194 (p. 296) – 3. VOA’s scheduling on its own frequences and on the RAI, 1950-1953 Bibliography Index

Advertising America aims at reconstructing the work that the American information networks did in Italy in the Cold War, and at giving an account of its results based on previously unexplored archival sources. The subject is divided into two broad areas, one regarding policy and the history of American information services in general, and the other concentrating on the application of such policy in Italy, in the areas of journalism, radio broadcasting, and of the relationship with the local cultural elite. The chronological sequence highlights the particular changes in the development of the United States Information Service’s (USIS) policy in Italy in the period considered, contextualizing them within Italian-American relations and world affairs. The USIS officers and Voice of America (VOA) had been in Italy since the war years, and between 1945 and 1953 their first concern was to ‘advertise America’ to contain the communist threat. Hence it was initially decided to address the broader public, especially the huge audience of workers, who were most likely to be seduced by communists. The book accounts this early approach and is based on official papers held at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington DC, on VOA’s scripts held at NARA Northeast Region in New York, as well as on some publications that the USIS distributed in Italy in those years, such as Nuovo mondo, Mondo d’oggi and the daily bulletin for the press. Those very expensive methods clearly were not working. The change of direction came with the new American ambassador Clare Boothe Luce, who, between 1953 and 1956 radically altered the cultural policy for Italy. The recently declassified records of Clare Boothe Luce held at NARA in Washington DC, compared to those at the Library of Congress, were essential in the account of the transformation of Italian intellectuals into invaluable ammunition for the propaganda arsenal.

Simona Tobia (Novara, 1972) studied foreign languages and literatures at the Università degli Studi of Milan, where she also obtained her PhD in Modern and Contemporary history. She is currently Research Assistant at the University of Reading, where she works at the project ‘Languages at War’. Her interests mainly focus on war and culture in the Twentieth century.


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