Selling Sea Power
Public Relations and the U.S. Navy, 1917–1941
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
After World War I, the U.S. Navy faced numerous challenges: a call for naval arms limitation, the ascendancy of air power, and budgetary constraints exacerbated by the Great Depression. Selling Sea Power tells the story of how the navy met these challenges by engaging in protracted public relations campaigns at a time when the means and methods of reaching the American public were undergoing dramatic shifts. While printed media continued to thrive, the rapidly growing film and radio industries presented new means by which the navy could connect with politicians and the public. Deftly capturing the institutional nuances and the personalities in play, Wadle tracks the U.S. Navy’s at first awkward but ultimately successful manipulation of mass media. At the same time, he analyzes what the public could actually see of the service in the variety of media available to them, including visual examples from progressively more sophisticated—and effective—public relations campaigns.
Integrating military policy and strategy with the history of American culture and politics, Selling Sea Power offers a unique look at the complex links between the evolution of the art and industry of persuasion and the growth of the modern U.S. Navy, as well as the connections between the workings of communications and public relations and the command of military and political power.
“Amidst rapidly evolving military technology and new mass media, the U.S. Navy mastered the practice of public relations during the Great Depression. Selling Sea Power shows how that expertise let the sea service create and popularize the fleet that won World War II.”——Sarandis Papadopoulos, Naval Historian, Washington, D.C.
“Wadle contributes to a rich historiography of the interwar navy and its transition from a battleship-centric force to one prepared to fight on the “three planes” of the ocean: the skies above, the surface, and the depths beneath. More specifically, this book joins a series of works discussing the history of American naval public relations, offering the first attempt to cover the entire interwar period and its implications…Wadle provides a complete and exhaustively researched picture of American naval public relations efforts from World War I to eve of Pearl Harbor.”—H-Net Reviews