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Inventing Public Diplomacy: The Story of the U.S. Information Agency

Wilson P. Dizard Jr.
Inventing Public Diplomacy: The Story of the U.S. Information Agency
ISBN: 978-1-58826-288-2
ISBN: 978-1-62637-004-3
2004/255 pages/LC: 2004001829
An ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Book

"A well-written and meticulously researched book.... This very readable history of USIA ... should appeal to anyone interested in foreign affairs." —Walter R. Roberts, Mediterranean Quarterly

"Timely and significant.... [a] must read for policymakers, scholars, and general readers concerned with the United State's international role today." —John H. Brown, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

"This seminal study is a gold mine of information for researchers interested in U.S. foreign policy and how U.S. government's media and cultural activities sought to garner international suppost for Washington's policies during the Cold War.... Inventing Public Diplomacy is an excellent reference book as well as an interesting history to read.... [It] will surely be viewed for a long time to come as a definitive history of USIA."—Allen C. Hansen, Foreign Service Journal

"An extremely useful, clear, and compact introduction to a vitally important aspect of U.S. foreign policy."—Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs

"Excellent.... a thorough, engaging, and unbiased study of the USIA and the people who made it work."—James Schwoch, Northwestern University

"Dizard's much-needed, comprehensive history of the USIA examines the agency's antecedents, as well as its legacy since it was dissolved in 1999, providing a fascinating look at how U.S. public diplomacy programs overlapped and often conflicted."—David Krugler, University of Wisconsin–Platteville


Public diplomacy—the uncertain art of winning public support abroad for one's government and its foreign policies—constitutes a critical instrument of U.S. policy in the wake of the Bush administration's recent military interventions and its renunciation of widely accepted international accords.

Wilson Dizard Jr. offers the first comprehensive account of public diplomacy's evolution within the U.S. foreign policy establishment, ranging from World War II to the present.

Dizard focuses on the U. S. Information Agency and its precursor, the Office of War Information. Tracing the political ups and downs determining the agency's trajectory, he highlights its instrumental role in creating the policy and programs underpinning today's public diplomacy, as well as the people involved. The USIA was shut down in 1999, but it left an important legacy of what works—and what doesn't—in presenting U.S. policies and values to the rest of the world. Inventing Public Diplomacy is an unparalleled history of U.S. efforts at organized international propaganda.


The late Wilson P. Dizard Jr. served in the U.S. State Department and the USIA from 1951 to 1980. Author of seven books and more than sixty scholarly articles, most recently Digital Diplomacy: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Information Age and Meganet, he was adjunct professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


  • Foreword—Kenneth L. Brown and Robert L. Funseth.
  • The United States and Ideological Warfare.
  • USIA's Wartime Origins.
  • From Hot War to Cold War.
  • USIA: Getting Started.
  • The Murrow Years.
  • High Summer.
  • Playing Bureaucratic Games.
  • A Stone’s Throw from the University.
  • The Delicate Art of Exporting Culture.
  • Sunset Years.
  • The Future of Public Diplomacy.