Robert Banks reviews Nicholas Cull's book on the rise and fall of the U.S. Information Agency



Posted December 18, 2012

Robert Banks, a former Foreign Service Officer at USIA and the U.S. Department of State who served as the Center on Public Diplomacy's Public Diplomat in Residence from 2009 to 2011, reviewed CPD University Fellow and director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program Nicholas J. Cull's recently published book.

Banks praised the book, titled The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy, 1989-2001,for being insightful and able to weave together a very complex story of the fall of the United States Information Agency in a concise way.

"Nicholas Cull’s new book The Decline and Fall of the United States Information Agency: American Public Diplomacy, 1989-2001 is the second and final volume in his comprehensive history of the United States Information Agency (USIA), the independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government charged with the conduct of public diplomacy (PD) from 1953 to 1999. The first volume traces the Agency from its post-World War II birthing pains to what many perceive to be its high-water mark in 1989 when, in December of that year, Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush declared the Cold War over at the Malta Summit. The current volume tracks the Agency’s decline in the subsequent decade, culminating in its consolidation into the State Department in October, 1999. Decline and Fall is a well-researched work, marked by lively writing and a keen eye for irony. Cull does not pull his punches in assessing the impact (decidedly negative) on U.S. public diplomacy of USIA’s forced march into oblivion, and his analysis of the very American reasons behind this curious chapter in U.S. diplomatic history is particularly insightful."

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