Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Hope and Folly

The United States and UNESCO, 1945-1985

1989
Authors:

William Preston Jr., Edward S. Herman, and Herbert I. Schiller
Introduction by Ellen Ray and William H. Schapp
Preface by Sean MacBride

Hope and Folly

“An extraordinarily important book....UNESCO has stood at the center of important debates over issues of international communications, and while the U. S. government and major U. S. media have strongly criticized UNESCO’s recent role, too few Americans understand the ensemble of issues that led to the U. S. withdrawal from UNESCO....Hope and Folly will stand as an invaluable piece of primary historical documentation in years to come.”

Stuart Ewen, professor of communications, CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College

Created in a burst of idealism after World War II, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) existed for forty years in a state of troubled yet oftern successful collaboration with one of its founders and benefactors, the United States. In 1980, UNESCO adopted the report of a commission that surveyed and criticized the dominance, in world media, of the United States, Japan, and a handful of European countries. The report also provided the conceptual underpinnings for what was later called the New World Information and Communication Order, a general direction adopted by UNESCO to encourage increased Third World participation in world media. This direction - it never became an official program - ultimately led to the United States’s withdrawal from UNESCO in 1984.

Hope and Folly is an interpretive chronicle of U.S./ UNESCO relations. Although the information debated has garnered wide attention in Europe and the Third World, there is no comparable study in the English language, and none that focuses specifically on the United States and the broad historical context of the debate. In the first three parts, William Preston covers the changing U.S./ UNESCO relationship from the early cold war years through the period of anti-UNESCO backlash, as well as the politics of the withdrawal. Edward Herman’s section is an interpretive critique of American media coverage of the withdrawal, and Herbert Schiller’s is a conceptual analysis of conflicts within the United States’s information policies during its last years in UNESCO. The book’s appendices include an analysis of Ed Bradley’s notorious “60 Minutes” broadcast on UNESCO.

Hope and Folly

William Preston Jr. was professor emeritus of history and former department chair at John Jay College in New York. He is director of the Institute for Media Analysis.

Edward S. Herman is a professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California.

Herbert I. Schiller is a professor of communication at the University of California. He received his Ph.D. from New York University.

All three professors have published numerous works.

Hope and Folly

“An extraordinarily important book....UNESCO has stood at the center of important debates over issues of international communications, and while the U. S. government and major U. S. media have strongly criticized UNESCO’s recent role, too few Americans understand the ensemble of issues that led to the U. S. withdrawal from UNESCO....Hope and Folly will stand as an invaluable piece of primary historical documentation in years to come.”

Stuart Ewen, professor of communications, CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College