WH&MWinning Hearts and Minds: British Governments, the Media and Colonial Counter-Insurgency 1944-60

Leicester University Press, 1995, 307pp

Over the fast twenty-five years, terrorism has attracted immense public and governmental interest. It is not, however, a new phenomenon. This study examines how post-war colonial insurgencies in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus were regarded by British policy-makers and the military as the ‘terrorism’ of their day. Using a great array of archive material, including mass-media sources, the author analyses the way in which propaganda formed an integral part of counter-insurgency strategy. Not only did British governments and their colonial officials produce their own publicity material on events in troubled colonies, they also sought to shape how the media – in Britain and elsewhere – reported them. Unlike many studies of colonial insurgency, this book examines both domestic and international aspects of the battle for ‘hearts and minds’.

“Carruthers’s well-argued and well-designed study examines how the British government dealt on the home front with counterinsurgencies in Palestine (1944-47), Malaya (1948-60), Kenya (1952-60), and Cyprus (1955-59). Most writers on counterinsurgency have concentrated on the political and military struggle between insurgents and the colonial administration or local regime the rebels seek to overthrow. Carruthers offers a fresh perspective: the contest for the hearts and minds of voters in the United Kingdom.”

Richard A. Hunt

Journal of Military History

“‘Hearts and minds’ came to include economic development, social welfare programmes, and constitutional concessions. In addition, and from the outset, it involved the conduct of war by other means, notably by information gathering, psychological warfare, control of news and propaganda. These attempts by government to influence opinion on colonial violence are the subject of Susan Carruthers’ valuable book.”

A.J. Stockwell

War in History

“Winning hearts and minds, a concept popularly accredited to General Sir Gerald Templer, has become one of several key principles in British counter-insurgency operational doctrine. Although the concept has been frequently mentioned, it has rarely been systematically examined: an oversight now repaired by Susan Carruthers in a scholarly, well-written, and admirably documented book…”

E.M. Spiers

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

"Winning Hearts and Minds" Research

Book Reviews

Winning Hearts and Minds was reviewed in the following journals:

  • Choice (Feb. 1996)
  • Democratization, 3, 2 (Summer 1996)
  • Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, 16, 3 (Aug. 1996)
  • History (April 1997)
  • Journal of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 35, 2 (July 1997)
  • Journal of Conflict Studies, 16, 1 (Spring 1996)
  • International Affairs, 72, 2 (April 1996)
  • Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 25, 2 (May 1997)
  • Journal of Military History, 61, 2 (April, 1997)
  • Race & Class, 38, 2 (Oct. 1996)
  • Terrorism & Political Violence, 8, 1 (Spring 1996)
  • War in History, 7, 2 (April 2000).

Review by Anthony Clayton in The Journal of Conflict Studies, Vol. XVI No. 1, Spring 1996

Other Writings on Counterinsurgency

“Why Can’t We See Insurgents? Enmity, Invisibility and Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Photography and Culture, 8, ii (July 2015), pp.191-211

“Being Beastly to the Mau Mau,” Twentieth Century British History, 16, iv (Sept. 2005), pp.1-8. Review of Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire. David Anderson. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005, and Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya. Caroline Elkins. London: Jonathan Cape, 2005

“Two Faces of 1950s Terrorism: the Film Presentation of Mau Mau and the Malayan Emergency,” Small Wars and Insurgencies, 6, i, (Spring 1995), pp.17-43; reprinted in J. David Slocum (ed.), Terrorism, Media, Liberation (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2005), pp.70-93

“A Red Under Every Bed? Anti-Communist Propaganda and Britain’s Response to Colonial Insurgency,” Contemporary Record, 9, ii (Autumn 1995), pp.294-318

“The British State and the Reporting of Terrorism, 1919-94,” in Ian Stewart & Susan Carruthers (eds.) War, Culture and the Media (Flicks Books, 1996), pp.101-129