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A New York Times Editors' Choice Book • A Washington Post Notable Work of Nonfiction
"The first book to put the story of Russian interference into a broader context ... Extraordinary and gripping." --The New York Times Book Review
The definitive history of the covert struggle between Russia and America to influence elections, why the threat to American democracy is greater than ever, and what we can do about it.
Russia's interference in 2016 marked only the latest chapter of a hidden and revelatory history. In Rigged, David Shimer tells the sweeping story of covert electoral interference past and present. He exposes decades of secret operations--by the KGB, the CIA, and Vladimir Putin's Russia--to shape electoral outcomes, melding deep historical research with groundbreaking interviews with more than 130 key players, from leading officials in both the Trump and Obama administrations, to CIA and NSA directors, to a former KGB general.
What Americans should make of Russia's attack in 2016 is still hotly debated, even after the Mueller report and years of media coverage. Shimer shows that Putin's operation was, in fact, a continuation of an ongoing struggle, using familiar weapons radically enhanced by new technology. Throughout history and in 2016, both Russian and American operations achieved their greatest success by influencing the way voters think, rather than tampering with actual vote tallies.
Casting aside partisanship and sensationalism, Rigged reveals new details about what Russia achieved in 2016, how the Obama administration responded, and why Putin has also been interfering covertly in elections across the globe in recent years, while American presidents have largely refrained from doing so. Shimer also makes disturbingly clear that this type of intrusion can be used to harm Democrats and Republicans alike. Russia's central aim is to undermine and disrupt our democracy, to the detriment of all Americans.
Understanding 2016 as one battle in a much longer war is essential to understanding the critical threat currently posed to America's electoral sovereignty and how to defend against it. Illuminating how the lessons of the past can be used to protect our democracy in the future, Rigged is an essential book for readers of every political persuasion.
About the Author
DAVID SHIMER is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an Associate Fellow at Yale University. His reporting and analysis have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, and Foreign Affairs. He received his doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and his undergraduate and master's degrees in history from Yale University.
Named one of the five best books in Politics & Current Events by the 2020 Outstanding Work of Literature Awards
"This is a brilliant, eye-opening, and riveting book. Shimer’s analysis of foreign interference in elections, historical and contemporary, is unmatched. It should be the baseline for any future discussions about this urgent threat to our democracy."
—Jake Sullivan, Former Director of Policy Planning, State Department
"In his absorbing new book, Rigged, David Shimer argues that the Russia story is far older, and the risks to U.S. electoral security far greater, than we imagined, particularly as a new election approaches."
—Carlos Lozada, the Washington Post
“This pioneering and judicious history of foreign intervention in elections should be read by everyone who wants to defend democracy now.”
—Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny
“This new and astonishing book by David Shimer will help rescue our democracy. I read every word of it. You should too.”
—Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th U.S. Secretary of State
“With clear prose and rigorous argument, David Shimer helps us understand the historical backdrop of Russia’s ongoing electoral interference. It is a sobering story – and a timely reminder of the importance of addressing the vulnerabilities and dysfunctions on which resourceful adversaries like Putin will continue to prey.”
– Ambassador William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
"Covert efforts to influence U.S. elections is not new—it is part of a hundred year strategy by the Russians to undermine our democracy. This age old competition between the superpowers was won by the Russians in 2016. But as David Shimer makes clear in this book—it is up to us to decide whether we will lose again in this new chapter of the Cold War or whether we will successfully defend our democratic experiment."
—Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA
"Rigged offers a convincing analysis of what changed in the three decades since the cold war and with the arrival in the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin... a judicious overview of our unhappy times."
—Luke Harding, The Guardian
—The National Book Review
"Eye-opening... thoroughly engaging... Rigged is a top-notch, if not the definitive, account of Russian assaults against America’s electoral processand a mighty timely call for caution."
“Rigged is a riveting read. David Shimer provides a clear-eyed, highly readable, meticulous history of foreign electoral interference, in which revelations abound. It is an indispensable book that is very timely and very relevant, especially as we approach the elections of 2020. Readers won’t be able to put it down.”
—General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA and Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan
"[An] authoritative book... His section about the torturous deliberations within President Obama's administration about how to respond to Russia's active measures is comprehensive to the point of encyclopedic... fascinating reading."
—Philip Ewing, NPR
"Provocative and well-sourced... This incisive treatise lays bare the monumental task of countering foreign interference in the 2020 election."
“As a CIA operations officer, I served through the most complicated periods of the Cold War. David Shimer's book Rigged gives a riveting account of that traumatic period. Shimer knows why and how we engaged in covert action, and what we were up against. He also knows the policies we must modify, if we are to succeed in the 2020s. This is a truly significant book; by all means, read it.”
—Ambassador Donald Gregg, Former CIA Station Chief and National Security Advisor to VP George H.W. Bush
"Rigged provides a fascinating window into the shadowy world of covert election interference — and Shimer illuminates how it produces lasting, if sometimes unintended, consequences.”
—Brian Klaas, Washington Post columnist and author of How to Rig an Election
"The first book to put the story of Russian interference into a broader context. . . Extraordinary and gripping. . . With the pacing of a thriller and the insight of a superb work of history. . . this book is nothing less than essential reading.
– Tim Naftali, The New York Times Book Review
"'Election interference' by one country into another is a subject that inspires speculation and conspiracy theory. David Shimer's Rigged establishes the facts: when and why Russians and Americans have meddled in the politics of other countries - and of one another. Based on a wide range of sources, this book is an excellent resource for people who want to know what actually happened, and not just what was rumored.
—Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History