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Midway Inquest
Washington's Partisan War, 1775-1783
Home Front to Battlefront
Infinity Beckoned
The Chickamauga Campaign
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Persuasion and PowerPersuasion and Power

The Art of Strategic Communication

James P. Farwell

Narrated by Tim Lundeen

Available from Audible

Book published by Georgetown University Press

Now more than ever, in the arenas of national security, diplomacy, and military operations, effective communication strategy is of paramount importance. A 24/7 television, radio, and Internet news cycle paired with an explosion in social media demands it.

According to James P. Farwell, an expert in communication strategy and cyber war who has advised the U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND and the Department of Defense, and worked nationally and internationally as a media and political consultant, this book examines how colorful figures in history from Julius Caesar to Winston Churchill, Napoleon to Hugo Chavez, Martin Luther to Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, have forged communication strategies to influence audiences.

Mark Twain said that history doesn't repeat itself, but rhymes. In showing how major leaders have moved audiences, Farwell bears out Twain's thesis. Obama and Luther each wanted to reach a mass audience. Obama used social media and the Internet. Luther used the printing press. But the strategic mindset was similar. Hugo Chavez identifies with Simon Bolivar, but his attitude towards the media more closely echoes Napoleon. Caesar used coins to build his image in ways that echo the modern use of campaign buttons. His "triumphs," enormous parades to celebrate military victories, celebrated his achievements and aimed to impress the populace with his power and greatness. Adolph Hitler employed a similar tactic with his torchlight parades.

The book shows how the US government's approach to strategic communication has been misguided. It offers a colorful, incisive critical evaluation of the concepts, doctrines, and activities that the US Department of Defense and Department of State employ for psychological operations, military information support operations, propaganda, and public diplomacy.

Persuasion and Power is a book about the art of communication strategy, how it is used, where, and why. Farwell's adroit use of vivid examples produce a well-researched, entertaining story that illustrates how its principles have made a critical difference throughout history in the outcomes of crises, conflicts, politics, and diplomacy across different cultures and societies.

James P. Farwell is an expert in communication strategy and cyber war who advises the US Department of Defense and the US Special Operations Command on a range of global initiatives and actions, including strategic communication. He is also a senior research fellow in strategic studies at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. He is the author of the highly acclaimed The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination, and Instability.


“This book is thorough, scholarly, informative, and well written.”


“There is an art to effective communication, to be sure, but art without a strategic objective is of dubious merit. In this intelligent and sweeping book, James P. Farwell provides profound insights into how different countries, cultures, and institutions use words and deeds to inform and shape the ideas, values, and actions of others.”

—William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense

“Again James Farwell connects today's dots with the perplexing challenges of strategic communications. Every kinetic strike must have a strategic message. So much so that the message is more powerful than the strike. That is the insight that Farwell provides along with so many others. A must read for public relations officers, military information officers, and all of today's and tomorrow's leaders.”

—Lt. Gen. Dell L. Dailey, USA (Ret.), former director, Center for Special Operations, US Special Operations command; former ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism, State Department

“A timely examination of contemporary American strategic communication, Persuasion and Power draws on case studies ripped from the headlines of the last decade. No other book on the strategic communication shelf so clearly lays out the approaches, jargon, tools, and techniques used by State Department diplomats, military officers, and aid workers one finds on the ground in almost every foreign country.”

—Amb. Brian E. Carlson, defense and diplomacy specialist, InterMedia Research Institute

Persuasion and Power is an informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and an absolutely recommended addition to professional, NGO, governmental, academic, and community library Political Science and Communication reference collections.”

Midwest Book Review

“A top expert on strategic communication, James Farwell combines superb scholarship with concise, vibrant writing in this riveting study of how leaders from antiquity to today have employed the principles of communication. It's a great read, sharply insightful, and immensely informative.”

—Ambassador Gilbert A. Robinson (ret.)

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University Press Audiobooks
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University Press Audiobooks