Our Man In New York

5 Oct | 5pm | £10, £8 conc.

Henry Hemming, the bestselling local journalist and author of six books including M and The Ingenious Mr Pyke, talks about and reads from his fascinating new book Our Man in New York.

Described as “revelatory and wholly fascinating” by William Boyd and “gripping and intoxicating” by Nicholas Shakespeare, this tells the extraordinary story of William (Bill) Stephenson and his unique wartime propaganda campaign: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into World War II.

When Bill Stephenson arrived in the US towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to ‘organise’ American public opinion, Britain was on the verge of defeat. Surveys showed that just 14% of the US population wanted to enter the war – but soon that began to change.

Those campaigning against America’s participation, such as legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, talked of a British-led plot to drag the US into the conflict. They feared that the British were somehow flooding the American media with ‘fake news’, infiltrating pressure groups, rigging opinion polls and meddling in US politics.