Book Review: How to Lose the Information War by Nina Jankowicz

How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News and the Future of Conflict by Nina Jankowicz is a well-researched book about information warfare tactics that has been used in five countries, and the lessons we must learn from them. Ms. Jankowicz has been advising Ukraine’s government on strategic communications, her work has been published in several national newspapers, and is an expert in Russian and Eastern European affairs.

  • 288 pages
  • Publisher: I.B. Tauris
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1838607684


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My rat­ing for How to Lose the Information War5
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This book is short, but packed with important information and policy suggestion which, unfortunately, I’m sure will be ignored in the current political climate.  The other aspect of How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News and the Future of Conflict by Nina Jankowicz, is that it’s pretty much terrifying, but a must-read for any political junky out there.

I have to give Ms. Jankowicz credit for not taking sides and attempting to be as bipartisan as possible. She writes about how many entities on the political spectrum in the US embrace Russian disinformation tactics to their advantage. The author goes on to acknowledge that the tactics used are not necessarily to change people’s minds, but to muddle the facts, dirty the water so you can’t see clearly. Disinformation “preys on real misgivings, fears, and societal fissures, and heightens emotion ensuring that reason is overwhelmed”. While being bombarded from all sides with “plurality version of the truth”, it is very difficult, even for the most savvy of us who pay close attention, to separate information from disinformation.

The Russian tactics are not new, but the way they are used are a challenge to overcome. You simply take something people are already angry about, and start a disinformation campaign to get them frustrated,  disengaged, or distrust institutions – hopefully all three. The author goes on to say that studies from the 1970s show that people remember what they heard first, even if it was false.
And suddenly all the bombastic rhetoric and statements make sense.

The author uses her advantage of languages and international connections to create a case for taking actions to limit influences, but also for our institutions to shore up and make people trust them again, they simply cannot play the political games our representatives do. The US has been slow to respond, but luckily we have a playbook from countries such Ukraine, Estonia which the disinformation tried to divide through history (Unions vs. Confederates?), Poland which was a victim of an anti-vaccination disinformation campaign (sounds familiar?), Ukraine who are still trying to undo the damage done to their reputation in Holland, and the Czech Republic who found out that the disinformation became an “opinion” (again, sounds familiar?).

The book ends on a bright note, it’s not too late but something needs to be done on a bipartisan policy level. It’s impossible, in a free democratic country, to stop all disinformation but it’s up to our elected officials and institutions to set the record straight.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
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