Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference

David Shimer. Knopf, $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-65900-6
Journalist Shimer debuts with a provocative and well-sourced study tracking Russian and U.S. efforts to influence foreign elections from the early 20th century to the present day. Though the history of covert electoral interference began with Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin’s efforts to spread communism in the wake of WWI, Shimer writes, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. “targeted elections aggressively and frequently” during the Cold War. His examples include CIA efforts to keep left-wing candidates out of office in Italy and Chile, and the KGB’s role in ensuring that West German chancellor Willy Brandt survived a 1972 no-confidence vote. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Shimer claims, America stopped its influence campaigns “in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.” Russia, however, has escalated its electoral meddling in the internet age, according to Shimer, and Vladimir Putin’s “digital warriors” waged covert campaigns in 2016 to unseat Montenegro’s pro-NATO leader, put Donald Trump in the White House, and influence the Brexit referendum. Though his prose style is more scholarly than scintillating, Shimer makes excellent use of archival research and interviews with U.S. government insiders and intelligence experts. This incisive treatise lays bare the monumental task of countering foreign interference in the 2020 election. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/29/2020
Release date: 06/09/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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