Recensione del libro “Selling war”

International Journal of Communication 8 (2014), Book Review 157–160.

Josef Seethaler, Matthias Karmasin, Gabriele Melischek, and Romy Wöhlert (Eds.), Selling War: The Role of the Mass Media in Hostile Conflicts from World War I to the “War to Terror,” Chicago: Intellect Ltd., University of Chicago Press, 2013, 367 pp., $35.50 (paperback).
Reviewed by Congying Chen (University of Southern California)


Selling War assembles articles that focus on the relationship between war and media to highlight that the tone, point of view, and medium used by reporters all impact the public’s perception of  wars. For example, articles published by national news agencies evoke different public reactions than diaries of soldiers posted on social media platforms. The authors argue that the role of mass media will continue to change as the media environment and technology evolve. […]

Moving forward, Diego Lazzarich observes the wars of the 20th century, focusing on war discourse. The rhetorical tone of war in public talks shifted during this time. In the early 20th century, nations used war to evoke citizens’ patriotism and desire for heroism. At the end of the 20th century, especially after two devastating World Wars, media reversed itself and tried to depict war as a neutral event or even as a positive transition for a country suffering from a tyrannous dictatorship. For example, during the 1991 Gulf War, George Lakoff notes “the use of language that constantly underlined and affirmed the cold neutrality of military operations” (p. 48), and Lazzarich points out that “a new concept of war was thus born that would also be used in subsequent wars, which were legitimized as operations with the beneficial aim of exporting democracy” (p. 48).