The story of modern disinformation begins with the post-Russian Revolution clash between communism and capitalism, which would come to define the Cold War. In Active Measures, Rid 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.
... superb ... Rid’s achievement in this book is that he places our crazy, upside-down politics in a coherent historical context. The digital tools of our adversaries may be new, but the mission of manipulation is as old as the spy business ... Anyone who reads this account and doesn’t conclude that the Russians played the Trump campaign like a violin has a tin ear. But the deeper value of Rid’s book is that it takes us to the beginnings of modern manipulation, when Moscow created 'The Trust,' a fake pro-Tsarist movement in the 1920s that allowed Moscow to watch, mislead and ultimately subvert its adversaries.
... elegant ... 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 ... The characters...are pure le Carré ... what Rid discovers is that while Russia kept going right until the bitter end, 'the West deescalated' its disinformation hostilities following the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Rid doesn’t offer much by way of explanation, leaving the reader to suspect that Western spymasters concluded that there was no active measure they could concoct that would better alienate citizens of the Eastern bloc from their masters than de facto imprisonment behind a high wall topped with barbed wire.
Soon after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik regime used misinformation to confuse its opponents ... By the time the Cold War ended, such measures had become almost routine. Moscow has revived them in recent years as Russian relations with the West have become more hostile, with the added impetus and reach of social media. Rid concludes this fascinating and well-researched history by warning of the need to take the challenge of misinformation seriously while being careful to not exaggerate its effects.