What I found was a thoughtful exploration of exactly what propaganda is and (not surprisingly) how it works. Stanley pulls from several different academic fields to craft his thesis, including social psychology, feminist theory, philosophy of race, analytic philosophy, and both classical and modern political philosophy. From Aristotle to Wittgenstein, Rousseau to W.E.B. DuBois, Stanley does a great job summarizing and analyzing the relevant positions within each work to show how propaganda works.
The first three-quarters of the book are surprisingly non-technical and accessible, so even the armchair philosopher or engaged voter can get a brief history of political philosophy as it relates to liberal democracy, along with Stanley’s own ideas. The last few chapters necessarily have a few areas of technical terms and logical propositions and syllogisms, but even this is not overwhelmingly technical.
Another strength of this work are the clear examples of propaganda cited throughout. Deliberate deception and misinformation are presented in recent real-world terms. These illustrations strengthen the validity of his argument, though his goal is not one of providing an easy way to identify propaganda. Instead Stanley focuses on peeling back the layers that surround the metaphysics of propaganda. More specifically, he is focusing on what propaganda is and how it works within liberal democracies like the United States of America.