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Publisher's Summary

We live in an age of organised deception. Spy agencies pour vast resources into hacking, leaking and forging data, often with the goal of weakening the very foundation of liberal democracy: trust in facts. 

Thomas Rid, a renowned expert on technology and national security, was one of the first to sound the alarm. Even before the 2016 election, he warned that Russian military intelligence was 'carefully planning and timing a high-stakes political campaign' to disrupt the democratic process. But as crafty as such so-called active measures have become, they are not new.

In this astonishing journey through a century of secret psychological war, Rid reveals for the first time some of history's most significant operations - many of them nearly beyond belief. A White Russian ploy backfires and brings down a New York Police Commissioner, a KGB-engineered, anti-Semitic hate campaign creeps back across the Berlin Wall, the CIA backs a fake publishing empire, run by a former Wehrmacht Uboat Commander that produces Germany's best jazz magazine.

Rid tracks the rise of leaking and shows how spies began to exploit emerging internet culture many years before WikiLeaks. Finally, he sheds new light on the 2016 US election, especially the role of the infamous 'troll farm' in St. Petersburg, as well as a much more harmful attack that unfolded in the shadows. We live in strange times. Only the perverse logic of active measures can explain them.

©2020 Thomas Rid (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

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Excellent book and narration; some chapters seem to end short

Some chapters seem to end a few words short; others quite abruptly with little to no transition time to next chapter. Please check and update the recording. Otherwise, a brilliant and well researched book, and the narrator was excellent.

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  • Attis
  • 03-11-2020

Boring and tiring

Too many words, the story is, most of the time, only mildly interesting. I had to fight the urge to shut this book off.

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  • nt
  • 14-11-2020

A thorough look at active measure

Really interesting to see how the practice of active measures has evolved over the years, from all sides. The last few chapters that bring the readers up to present day, really does give a different context to the events we've all lived through.

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  • Corfe Castle Info
  • 21-10-2020

Great book but audio problems

As many others have reviews have said - this is a great book and I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the history of false/fake news, disinformation and how it’s shaped the world we live in today. But there’s a number of really annoying problems with the audio version. Some chapters are clipped off mid sentence meaning the book is incomplete. Not sure if this is an Amazon/Audible issue or a problem with the original recording. Either way I’ll probably buy the card copy to fill in the gaps!

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  • CNY
  • 18-10-2020

Excellent analysis

Definitely worth listening too. A compelling well choreographed book. Highly enjoyable. Amazing what techniques are forgotten and reinvented.

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  • Ivan Bergman
  • 01-09-2020

Truth is fragile

Good fact based as far as I can judge. Relevant topic in our harsh times. Good balance between analysis and happening. I can recommend this book.

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  • S. Moorcroft
  • 09-07-2020

Fascinating and disturbing

A comprehensive guide to the history of active measures,' that is disinformation and sowing confusion and division in the society of you antagonist, including the Russian hack of the DNC in the midst of the US election. Overall the tone is measured and objective, however occasionally a bum note sounds betraying a slight ideological bias. The description of the overthrow of Allende in Chile particularly grated,' a socialist experiment coming to its logical conclusion.' However an invaluable guide to the history of disinformation and dirty tricks.

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  • Toby
  • 14-05-2020

Bizarre "skips" throughout

nothing wrong with the narrator, the book is just full of cuts - chapters being cut off etc, as though it has been uploaded incorrectly. I'm not sure how much is missing. etc but it's very jarring.

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  • Rob
  • 13-05-2020

Amazing book. Issues with the Audiobook.

This book and the research done by the author is amazing. Absolutely mind blowing and grappling and relevant. Unfortunately, the audiobook has a few errors where sentences are clipped at the end of chapters. Amazon informed, hopefully they will resolve.

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  • papapownall
  • 27-04-2020

How the deception game works

Author of this book Thomas Rid is a political scientist and Professor of Strategic Studies and an expert specialising in the way those in power use information technology to spread disinformation. In this book he tells the story of how the concept of disinformation campaigns began as early as the 1920s with the anti Japanese Tanaka Memorial document hoax. He tells of how over time methods and tactics became more sophisticated and how apparently leaked documents have been used to discredit political opponents and to erode democracy by blurring the lines between facts and lies. Some of the methods used in the Cold War seem amateurish compared to current standards and we hear of forged political warfare tactics rused by clumsy translations and traceable faults on typewritten documents. It was not long before active measures became more cunning and were devised to have psychological as well as overtly political targets. Examples of these are the US sponsored jazz magazines which were circulated in the Eastern Bloc containing covert underlying propaganda in favour of the West, the Soviet infiltration of peace movement of the 1980s and, probably the most wide reaching disinformation campaign which uses the AIDs epidemic to criticise and undermine the US . It is, of course, the advent of modern technology and the internet in particular that has resulted in these "active measures" having such influence they have today. The internet has undoubtedly made it both cheaper and quicker to disseminate false information and Rid follows the development of political warfare techniques through the widely publishised leaks of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden right through to the Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential elections.

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