How to Win an Information War

The Propagandist Who Outwitted Hitler

Regular Price $30.00

Regular Price $39.00 CAD

Regular Price $30.00

Regular Price $39.00 CAD

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On Sale

Mar 5, 2024

Page Count

304 Pages




From one of our leading experts on disinformation, this inventive biography of the rogue WWII propagandist Sefton Delmer confronts hard questions about the nature of information war: what if you can't fight lies with truth? Can a propaganda war ever be won?

In the summer of 1941, Hitler ruled Europe from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Britain was struggling to combat his powerful propaganda machine, crowing victory and smearing his enemies as liars and manipulators over his frequent radio speeches, blasted out on loudspeakers and into homes. British claims that Hitler was dangerous had little impact against this wave of disinformation.

Except for the broadcasts of someone called Der Chef, a German who questioned Nazi doctrine. He had access to high-ranking German military secrets and spoke of internal rebellion. His listeners included German soldiers and citizens, as well as politicians in Washington DC who were debating getting into the war. And–most importantly–Der Chef was a fiction. He was a character created by the British propagandist Thomas Sefton Delmer, a unique weapon in the war.

Then, as author Peter Pomerantsev seeks to tell Delmer's story, he is called into a wartime propaganda effort of his own: the US response to the invasion of Ukraine. In flashes forward to the present day, Pomerantsev weaves in what he's learning from Delmer as he seeks to fight against Vladimir Putin's tyranny and lies. This book is the story of Delmer and his modern investigator, as they each embark on their own quest to manipulate the passions of supporters and enemies, and to turn the tide of an information war, an extraordinary history that is informing the present before our eyes.


“Mr. Pomerantsev writes in a lucid, ironical style that is a pleasure to read… [I]t paints a memorable portrait of a communicator whose genius was not tied to a particular medium of communication. And the insights it contains have less to do with new-fangled technology than with old-fashioned human nature." —Wall Street Journal
"A riveting, often lyrical account of the intricate and interdependent UK, German, and US propaganda efforts during wartimes hot and cold...As we survey the past for key lessons and try to learn from our contemporary journalists, historians, and social scientists, Pomerantsev’s will always be a voice worth listening to." —Los Angeles Review of Books
“[A] compelling new study.”
  —The Guardian
“With his understanding of propaganda and sharp eye for the unnervingly offbeat, Pomerantsev has unearthed an ideal subject in Delmer.” —National Review
“A must-read… “How to Win an Information War” succeeds wildly (if, in places, despite itself) at raising deeper philosophical questions about propaganda, its role in shaping national identities, and its use by the good and the evil alike, in politics and in war. With this addictive page-turner, Pomerantsev’s incisiveness once again sets his work above and apart from the often-crowded disinfo-hype genre.” —Gavin Wilde, Lawfare
“A brilliantly inspired study of the power of propaganda to influence geopolitical narratives.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[Pomerantsev’s] prose sparkles and his delineation of Delmer’s theories of propaganda fascinates… a fleet-footed history of propaganda.” —Publishers Weekly
“An excellent work of history carefully researched and beautifully written, and at once a profound study of a central problem of our time. To be read by everyone seeking perspective on all the lies of war and all the wars of lies.”
  —Timothy Snyder, bestselling author of On Tyranny
“This is an original work of historical research and critical analysis, written with a literary flourish. Peter Pomerantsev digs deep into the history of information warfare to help us understand how to fight charlatans and fear mongers in the present.” —Anne Applebaum, bestselling author of Twilight of Democracy
“This book, brilliantly written by one of our finest writers at the top of his game, is one you will race through and then want to start all over again. Not only will it excite you and entertain you, it will profoundly unnerve you. Never again will you think about war, truth, and disinformation the same. This is history at its most urgent.”
  —Ben Judah, author of This is Europe
“A fascinating wartime biography that is also an inquiry into one of the most urgent issues in modern politics. Highly recommended.”
  —Gideon Rachman, foreign affairs columnist, Financial Times
 “How to Win an Information War bends genre boundaries, part history, part biography, and part how-to guide for deploying or countering propaganda. Pomerantsev, from Ukraine, has a particular interest in fighting back against Vladimir Putin’s lies about the country he invaded. A disturbing feature of the current U.S. right is its receptiveness to Russian propaganda about Ukraine, such as the claim that the invaded nation had a chain of bioweapons labs in collaboration with the CIA. How to Win an Information War should be of interest to anyone delving into persuasion in a time of polarization.”
  —Kenneth Silber, Splice Today
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