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Active Measures

The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare
Written by: Thomas Rid
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 14 hrs and 45 mins
5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

This revelatory and dramatic history of disinformation traces the rise of secret organized deception operations from the interwar period to contemporary internet troll farms

We live in the age of disinformation - of organized 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. 

The story of modern disinformation begins with the clash between communism and capitalism after the Russian Revolution, which would come to define the Cold War. In Active Measures, Rid reveals startling intelligence and security secrets from materials written in more than 10 languages across several nations, and from interviews with current and former operatives. He exposes the disturbing yet colorful history of professional, organized lying, revealing for the first time some of the century'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 U-boat 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 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.

Active Measures takes the listener on a guided tour deep into a vast hall of mirrors old and new, pointing to a future of engineered polarization, more active and less measured - but also offering the tools to cut through the game of deception.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2020 Thomas Rid (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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  • fjness
  • 2020-05-12

Grounding book for COVID 19 Media

Ride's work should dampen the concerns of "the new and never seen." He shows humans have been exploiting information for longer than the 21st century. COVID, like AIDS, is proving valuable for attacking cohesion. I enjoyed his connection of active measures to Foucot and post modernism. Spy thriller intensity combined with a philosophical treatise nuance--a fun informative read.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Wil D
  • 2020-08-27

A Clear View of Disinformation

Active Measures takes a deep dive into how disinformation is being used to interfere with the way we see truth. While, as Thomas Rid points out, this is nothing new, it has become a very potent tool with the rise of the internet and social media platforms. Technology is now being used to bolster rifts in democratic countries around the world. These rifts are now paving the way for a complete breakdown in trust for our institutions. The only way for us to counter the effects of disinformation is to understand the game and how it is being played on us. You need to listen to this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tzvi David Szajnbrum
  • 2020-08-02

Too much information for no purpose

If you want to hear hundreds of unnecessary details, dates, names etc you will not remember next day, you are at the right spot. It could be a good book if it was much shorter, less detailed, less boring, more focused in the general picture and not on details completely not important. This is a book one can skip

2 people found this helpful

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  • John E. Byington
  • 2020-06-23

Good Catch Up on History and Recent Events

This fills is some of the "rest of the story," But if one doesn't have some above average background knowledge of the history going on, I think this work could lose many readers. Disinformation is a really challenging topic. No doubt some of this will need to be revised in some future date as archives open to permit researchers greater understanding of events, but I thought this a good introduction regarding what has been done in the past as an indicator of what could be done in the future. Anyone that cherishes concepts under-girding a liberal democracy should understand how those ideas are and will continue to be attacked by enemies, both foreign and domestic. For that reason, I recommend this book.

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  • Jacob Cohen
  • 2020-07-09

Boring AF

Save your time and skip this. Lots of better content here. I recommend Raven Rock.

1 person found this helpful