Active Measures (Paperback)

The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare

Thomas Rid

This startling history of secret psychological operations traces the century-long rise of organized deception from the Russian Revolution to contemporary internet troll farms

A GUARDIAN POLITICS BOOK OF THE YEAR

We live in an age of subterfuge. 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 U-boat commander that produces Germany's best jazz magazine.

Publication date: 23/04/2020

£15.99

ISBN: 9781788164757

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Current Affairs, History & Classics, Politics & Economics

Active Measures (Ebook)

The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare

Thomas Rid

This startling history of secret psychological operations traces the century-long rise of organized deception from the Russian Revolution to contemporary internet troll farms

A GUARDIAN POLITICS BOOK OF THE YEAR

We live in an age of subterfuge. 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 U-boat commander that produces Germany's best jazz magazine.

Publication date: 23/04/2020

£10.99

ISBN: 9781782834601

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B07G2S6KFZ

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Current Affairs, History & Classics, Politics & Economics

Active Measures (Audiobook)

The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare

Thomas Rid

Buy from

This startling history of secret psychological operations traces the century-long rise of organized deception from the Russian Revolution to contemporary internet troll farms

A GUARDIAN POLITICS BOOK OF THE YEAR

We live in an age of subterfuge. 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 U-boat commander that produces Germany's best jazz magazine.

Publication date: 23/04/2020

£19.99

ISBN: 9781782836902

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Current Affairs, History & Classics, Politics & Economics

Active Measures (Hardback)

The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare

Thomas Rid

This startling history of secret psychological operations traces the century-long rise of organized deception from the Russian Revolution to contemporary internet troll farms

A GUARDIAN POLITICS BOOK OF THE YEAR

We live in an age of subterfuge. 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 U-boat commander that produces Germany's best jazz magazine.

Publication date: 13/08/2020

£25.00

ISBN: 9781788160742

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Current Affairs, History & Classics, Politics & Economics

Reviews for Active Measures

'Mindbending... The Kremlin's renewed efforts will ensure that Active Measures appears on the reading list of government officials and security experts. But it would be a disservice to reduce it to such a narrow space. For this is a book about something much bigger: our relationship with truth and our desire for lies.'

Peter Pomerantsev Spectator

'Clausewitz for the cyber era'

John S Gardner Guardian

'Elegant ... The natural impulse is to see Russia's attack in 2016 - and the one it is surely preparing for 2020 - as a radically new feature of our hyperconnected world ... Yet Rid's book is devoted to persuading us that it is in line with decades of history. In rich detail, Rid walks us through a hundred years of political warfare, recounting the exploits powers both major and minor inflicted on one another via the disinformation units of their intelligence agencies. Some of the stories are hair-raising.'

Jonathan Freedland New York Review of Books

'Lays bare the use of forgeries, bribery, phoney news outlets, word-of-mouth gossip spread by agents of influence and the systematic exploitation of scoop-hungry journalists, political polarisation and confused public opinion. In many cases the lies surrounded a kernel of truth. It all sounds alarmingly familiar. But even those who do worry about modishly named "fake news" or "hybrid warfare" often think they are dealing with new phenomena. They should read Rid's book.'

Edward Lucas The Times

'Superb ... Rid's achievement in this book is that he places our crazy, upside-down politics in a coherent historical context ... Rid provides the best narrative I've read anywhere of how the Russian disinformation campaign in 2016 was run from the GRU in Moscow and the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg. Anyone who reads this account and doesn't conclude that the Russians played the Trump campaign like a violin has a tin ear.'

David Ignatius Washington Post

'A must-read ... Rid helps remind us how we reached this morass, one with antecedents reaching back to Czarist Russia and the Bolshevik revolution.'

Lloyd Green Guardian

'Active Measures is predominantly an exercise in clarity, shining a light on covert operations and exposing the lies previously reported as truth. But it is at its most chilling when describing the disorientating complexities of unsolved operations.'

Helen Warrell Financial Times

'Required reading for those interested in understanding how the information they consume can be manipulated, and the potential effects that can be achieved'

Rick Ledgett Former deputy director of the NSA

'Timely ... impressive... A thoroughly enjoyable read, offering an important historical perspective on what too often feels like unprecedented times'

Rory Cormac TLS

'Does a wonderful job in telling the story of disinformation from the Russian Revolution to the present day'

Tony Barber FT books of summer 2020

'Fascinating and well-researched history'

Lawrence D. Freedman Foreign Affairs

'Skillfully illuminates and demystifies this ballyhooed but much-misunderstood subject'

 Publishers Weekly starred review

'Important insights'

 Economist

'Engrossing ... invaluable'

James Gibney The American Scholar

'Groundbreaking ... Thomas Rid looks deep into neglected East European State Security archives, tracks down Cold War-era active measures officers, and examines fresh digital forensics in order to tell the true history of what we now know as disinformation. Active Measures is full of great stories that give contemporary events the historical context that has, until now, been missing.'

Anne Applebaum Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History

'Thomas Rid's timely Active Measures is an instant classic. He provides a comprehensive look at the political attacks we witnessed in 2016, and reminds us that deception and disinformation have deep historical roots. He also shows that the effects of active measures can be long-lasting, but can also boomerang on those who initiate them. As free societies look to defend against future deception campaigns, they will need to understand both the past and the new technologies that help to weaponize the practice in the present. Thomas Rid's excellent book is the best place to start.'

John Sipher former member of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service

'Thomas Rid, a recognized expert in information security, investigates the history of disinformation, taking us back to its modern origins. He tells a series of thrilling stories of how this subtle game was played by the founder of the Soviet secret police, his successors at the KGB, their Western counterparts, and contemporary Russian intelligence operators. Rid has produced a book that is destined to become a seminal work on the topic.'

Andrei Soldatov coauthor of The Red Web: The Kremlin's War on the Internet

'Active Measures provides a comprehensive look at the disinformation game, from the 1920s through the digital revolution. Thomas Rid gives the reader an insider's view of how high-profile influence campaigns are designed and executed, thus providing historical perspective that can help us blunt the impact of disinformation. For that reason alone, Active Measures is a must-read.'

Nada Bakos former analyst and targeting officer at the CIA

Thomas Rid

Thomas Rid

Thomas Rid is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author most recently of the acclaimed Rise of the Machines (2016), a history of cybernetics. He testified on disinformation in front of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.