This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality by Peter Pomerantsev

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Pushkin House Staff Picks (February 2022)

Pomerantsev’s exploration of the murky underworld of media manipulation and ‘fake news’ is both fascinating and terrifying. This Is Not Propaganda delves into the ways our information-driven world is being used, behind the scenes, to undermine democracy and freedoms everywhere.

The author intersperses his modern-day investigation with the story of his parents, who were interrogated by the KGB and eventually deported. He also focuses on the people who, often at great personal risk, are speaking out against those using the online media world to manipulate and achieve their shady goals. These personal narratives lie at the heart of a well-researched and timely warning about the state of modern political life.

Pomerantsev closely examines the bigger picture, but always brings the focus back onto the deeply human nature of these issues, which ultimately touch all of our lives in some way. Equal parts gripping, troubling, moving and enlightening, this book genuinely changed how I look at the world. An excellent read!

Catherine Mullier, Front of House and Events Manager at Pushkin House

When information is a weapon, everyone is at war. We live in a world of influence operations run amok, a world of dark ads, psy-ops, hacks, bots, soft facts, ISIS, Putin, trolls, Trump. We've lost not only our sense of peace and democracy - but our sense of what those words even mean.

As Peter Pomerantsev seeks to make sense of the disinformation age, he meets Twitter revolutionaries and pop-up populists, 'behavioural change' salesmen, Jihadi fan-boys, Identitarians, truth cops, and much more. Forty years after his dissident parents were pursued by the KGB, he finds the Kremlin re-emerging as a great propaganda power. His research takes him back to Russia – but the answers he finds there are surprising.

'The world's most powerful people are lying like never before, and no one understands the art of their lies like Peter Pomerantsev.' Oliver Bullough

'Through our current smog of smouldering bullshit, This is Not Propaganda shines a necessary, humane and dissident light.' Nick Rankin

'Far more than just another take on today's chaotic information wars, this book argues that we will have to understand how propaganda seeks to shape our deepest thoughts before we can confront it.' Anne Applebaum