• Mindf*ck

  • Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World
  • By: Christopher Wylie
  • Narrated by: Graham Halstead
  • Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From whistle-blower Christopher Wylie, the definitive story of the Brexit coup, the making of Bannon's America and an ongoing crime against democracy.

What if you could peer into the minds of an entire population? What if you could target the weakest with rumours that only they saw?

In 2016, an obscure British military contractor turned the world upside down. Funded by a billionaire on a crusade to start his own far-right insurgency, Cambridge Analytica combined psychological research with private Facebook data to make an invisible weapon with the power to change what voters perceived as real.

The firm was created to launch the then unknown Steve Bannon's ideological assault on America. But as it honed its dark arts in elections from Trinidad to Nigeria, 24-year-old research director Christopher Wylie began to see what he and his colleagues were unleashing.

He had heard the disturbing visions of the investors. He saw what CEO Alexander Nix did behind closed doors. When Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the EU, Wylie realised it was time to expose his old associates. The political crime of the century had just taken place - the weapon had been tested - and nobody knew.

©2019 Christopher Wylie (P)2019 Profile Audio

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    3 out of 5 stars

Great book spoiled by personal vendetta

Fantastic story. Should not have been so focused on authors personal relationships with the characters and more focused on the actual events.

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Brilliant and Educational.

loved it. not only did the author detail what happened and how it happened, but the level of detail is sufficient for a practioner of software to reproduce the systems of SCL and their successes. the Trinidad project however is appaling.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jack Holt
  • 04-17-20

Extremely irritating

This is honestly an interesting read, but made frustrating by an insufferable author. He describes himself as a marmite person, which, based on some of the other reviews, must be true, because I couldn't stand him.

The first half contains interesting information, and the author speaks with what seems like frank honesty about some of his own truly awful actions. He claims to have, and to have had, left wing and progressive values, while simultaneously working tirelessly against those values for personal profit and with the misguided notion that he is some kind of data prodigy. He portrays himself as the brains behind Cambridge Analytica, but seems to take very little responsibility for what he did. He then goes on to cast himself as the hero of his own story, and also some kind of victim, somehow. The interesting parts of the book are speckled with irritating personal observations, and he tells us over and over about how he's gay and dyes his hair, as though those irrelevant features somehow redeem his character.

What really bumped this down from a 4 star to a 3 is the end of the book, which is made up of the authors recommendations for changing society, with him throwing out wisdom as if he's some kind of great thinker who we should all listen to. I do actually agree with a lot of what he says, although it has all been said before, but it really left a sour taste in my mouth to hear someone describe years of pure hypocrisy and selfishness, frame it as though he had thought he was working towards something good, and then go on to preach about ethics as if a short career in being completely unethical qualifies him to do that.

I can't really rate the narrator, but I think his delivery exacerbated my annoyance with the author. Perhaps if the author had read it himself he wouldn't have come off quite so smug.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Ben
  • 10-30-20

I thought this was going to be like Ed Snowden’s book...

It really comes across as the pinnacle of woke or cancel culture. Essentially he got Cambridge Analytica cancelled.

Being gay shouldn’t have anything to do with this story, which has sooo much potential. Yet it does, at every opportunity.

There’s no balance, it’s as if he was out to personally bring down right wing politicians, constantly making snide remarks. We all know left wing politicians would never use online marketing campaigns, right?

Unless you’re really on his page....skip this one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Alcidae
  • 07-12-20

Amazing story, well told (and narrated)

This is such an important book. Wylie tells it very well, stearing clear of sensationalism but never letting the complexities and nuances seem dry. He is a person near the very centre of a storm and his story touches on many issues, all of them current and written about in a considered way and with fascinating insight.
Although it was not dwelt upon in the book, my enduring impression is of how intimidating and oppressive it is to live as a whistleblower. Given Wylie's involvement you can understand why he now feels compelled to do it.
Don't be put off by the title: this isn't some niche, anti-establishment conspiracy story, it's incredibly real.
This heart of this isn't party political, or pro-/anti-Brexit, but manages to be bigger than both issues. It feeds a public debate on privacy that we need to be having.

*Just an amendment to say Emily F.s assertion that Wylie constantly goes on about being gay was not at all my impression as a straight reader. Wylie does explain how being gay is part of his story however, from the experience of how preparing to come out makes you sensitive to power structures, to how right-wing religious extremism's demonising of homosexuality contributed to his discomfort with the Cambridge Analytics project. He acknowledges the relevance of his sexuality to his experience. As a straight person I feel it is equally important for us to also acknowledge the relevance of our sexuality to our perception, and reviews.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Snow Angel
  • 06-21-20

Thank you

I thought I had gone mad or was living in a parallel universe, never understanding how we committed economic suicide. Now I understand, this was the intention of a powerful man to create chaos in a system that was working too well for his purposes and in order for his objectives to be achieved Europe needed to fail and if he could damage America using the same tools, so much the better. Thank you Christopher for your courage and determination to reveal how like stupid sheep we follow fake news rather than seeking the truth.

4 people found this helpful

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  • KRB
  • 02-26-20

Very very important. I was surprised!

I saw the great hack documentary, and read Brittany kaiser's book first. She did not place Christopher wylie in good light. So I had my doubts about this book. Even hesitated to buy it. It started out very generic, but soon became very detailed and intriguing. I was highly surprised! Turned out to be very very good! I highly recommend this. Its so important and if we don't pay attention, we are all going to suffer as nations and societies. Unless you are very rich and therefore above petty concerns like digital and human rights. Please read. Seriously.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Derrick Tapscott
  • 06-30-20

Gripping Story of the Truth

Fascinating inside story of the way major elections are fought in cyber space

The story travels the world of the shadows where a 2% swing in an election wins all but at what cost with links to Russia, a Billionaire, the Alt Right, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. The tale is daring and and you feel for his personal safety at times.

The epilogue discusses the need for Internet Utility standards - similar to building standards - for Personal Data. "When you walk through a door you do no need to sign a form telling you that the building may fall on you. A very well made point.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Edgar Kindling
  • 06-22-20

whistleblowers are the true heroes!

a good story,well narrated about the miserable ways our politics work and how easy people can be manipulated.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sue Black
  • 04-15-21

Everyone should read this book

Want to know how Brexit and Trump happened? Here’s the full story of how we were all manipulated and how the manipulators got away with it. A riveting and enjoyable whilst simultaneously disturbing read. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand reality.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Prof
  • 04-15-21

tediously long time to say very little

tediously long time to say very little.
I am adding extra words becuase they are required for the review to be acceptable

1 person found this helpful

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  • Adam Boome
  • 03-12-21

Essential reading

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the current political landscape and how we got here.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kris Tregenza
  • 01-20-21

Eye opening indeed

I had, of course, heard of Cambridge Analytica - but I had absolutely no idea that the media had presented only the tip of that iceberg. The old proverb rings true - just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching you.

This book details an ethical void lying at the heart of the company that managed political propaganda for both Brexit and Trump campaigns, and served to answer many questions on the lips of everyone outside of the Alt-Right, primarily: How the heck did we get here??

The events this book catalogues from 2012-2016 are particularly poignant in January 2021, amidst accusations of US electoral fraud, the storming of Capitol Hill, and most particularly the headline from 20 January - that in his last act as POTUS, Donald Trump has pardoned Steve Bannon, former advisor and vice president of Cambridge Analytica.

A definite addition to my list of #mustreadbooks

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tenma13
  • 07-28-21

Interesting if naive

Engaging story. I found the author almost wishfully ignorant of the wider context in which he was operating in. At times it was a bit painful, possibly revisionist to protect himself. Would have enjoyed more analysis on the combination of social psychology and mass data.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nick B
  • 07-19-21

Exceptional insight into Cambridge Analytica

I really enjoyed Christopher Wylie's telling of the Cambridge Analytica story from his perspective. There's a bit of biographical backstory, but not too much minutiae before he gets into the juicy bits - and this is really juicy stuff. Much more detailed around the science behind CA than Brittany Kaiser's book, obviously. He also provides a very clear interpretation of the political and social climate aspects that enabled CA to thrive. Graham Halstead does a great reading.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-10-21

must read

much needed perspective for the people to understand the reality and danger of manufactured consent

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave Whyte
  • 12-31-20

Obviously, delete your Facebook

A terrifying and compelling story, brilliantly told. There is no unlearning this lesson and, yes, you really need to get off FB, IG and WhatsApp at a minimum.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick hayes
  • 07-10-20

enlightening

a very eye opening book that shows how fragile and susceptible our democracy is to disinformation.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr B R Fenson
  • 05-20-20

Apt title

Well narrated and a fantastic look behind the curtains of the miss uses of technology and the bad actors who try to destroy our society

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Brenton cullen
  • 11-19-19

What a revelation

Makes you really think about how these organisations get to big to be challenged by governments