• The Wires of War

  • Technology and the Global Struggle for Power
  • By: Jacob Helberg
  • Narrated by: Jesse Einstein
  • Length: 11 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the former news policy lead at Google, an “informative and often harrowing wake-up call” (Publishers Weekly) that explains the high-stakes global cyberwar brewing between Western democracies and the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia that could potentially crush democracy.

From 2016 to 2020, Jacob Helberg led Google’s global internal product policy efforts to combat disinformation and foreign interference. During this time, he found himself in the midst of what can only be described as a quickly escalating two-front technology cold war between democracy and autocracy.

On the front-end, we’re fighting to control the software - applications, news information, social media platforms, and more - of what we see on the screens of our computers, tablets, and phones, a clash which started out primarily with Russia but now increasingly includes China and Iran. Even more ominously, we’re also engaged in a hidden back-end battle - largely with China - to control the internet’s hardware, which includes devices like cellular phones, satellites, fiber-optic cables, and 5G networks.

This tech-fueled war will shape the world’s balance of power for the coming century as autocracies exploit 21st-century methods to redivide the world into 20th-century-style spheres of influence. Without a firm partnership with the government, Silicon Valley is unable to protect democracy from the autocrats looking to sabotage it from Beijing to Moscow and Tehran. Helberg offers “unnervingly convincing evidence that time is running out in the ‘gray war’ with the enemies of freedom” (Kirkus Reviews) which could affect every meaningful aspect of our lives, including our economy, our infrastructure, our national security, and ultimately, our national sovereignty.

©2021 Jacob Helberg. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Overall
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Incredible book

Perfectly captures the current stakes in the ongoing gray war. Amazing how the book balances politics, technology and personal stories. This is a great read for anyone interested in the future of geopolitics!

3 people found this helpful

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A great primer on Propaganda 2.0 and The Cyber War

I prefer books like Peter Theil's "Zero to One" where every page is basically just pure information coming at you at a million miles per hour. But this book is a bit different. Jacob is clearly well versed in this, but he tells it like a story. There is a lot of personal life injected into this book. Which is fine, I tend to do that in comments and emails quite regularly. Oddly though. I'm not a fan of that style.

HOWEVER, this book is still amazing. There is a lot of "behind the curtain information" that, to be honest, pisses you off if you care. I'm a bit lost at what we should be doing to combat this. I think, first and foremost, Americans need to know about these dangers. It should be taught in schools for the next generation to be more robust against these attacks.

Give it a read, you'll be introduced to a dangerous new world and like me, you'll probably be thinking about this everyday trying to figure out how we can fight back.

3 people found this helpful

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potentially interesting content but...

but are his personal preferences and relationships really relevant to the content? I believe in personal freedoms but do I really need to hear about how he pretended to drop his phone and hid the ring under the couch? can you please direct me to the business or technology section.

1 person found this helpful

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Naive and Not insightful

don't get trapped in fake reviews...waste of time. Author is young without experience and thinking he had some real insight into inner workings of tech being at Google was misguided on my part. Clearly biased book.

1 person found this helpful

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Informative Summary

High level and very digestible summary of the current situation facing the US as it relates to China and Russia. Technical aspects of the back end ecosystem were explained well to a layman like myself, which I felt really added to my understanding. The many “imagine if” type scenarios felt a little alarmist at times, and I would’ve liked more rigorous counter-arguments to points made in the book (although I do appreciate the inclusion of counter arguments in the first place), but the book was evidence-backed and compelling. My favorite part was the considerable time spent outlining potential solutions to the problems. Walked away very informed and am glad I gave it a listen.

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Must read for all Americans

Wires is an incredible wake-up call for all Americans about the challenges we face today and the long-term threat posed by China. Don’t skip this, read/listen to it and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

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Melodramatic far left leaning prologue.

After the melodramatic far left leaning prologue, I was afraid that it would be difficult to find any balanced views here and thus put the book down.

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Overall great book… a little political bias

I thought it was a great listen but wish the author did a better job presenting a more balanced or apolitical viewpoint. In general I would recommend.

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Captivating and thought provoking

This book is a by my definition very neutral written book for insight into the tech/politics of the United States

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Truly Crucial Considerations For Our Current Digital Grey War

I won’t spend much time on this but suffice it to say that this is among the most succinct and direct diagnostic and set of plausible solutions in the digital conflict we’re engaged in. Excellent book with great references, sources, and philosophies that capture current challenges at a juncture in the global order’s history that will determine whether we can maintain our fundamental values.

Some of the dilatory anecdotes could have had more relevance, but the road map laid out is invaluable for maintaining and progressing toward the rights we hold so dear!

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