“Actions are dictated by decisions, decisions are based on perceptions, and perceptions are subject to manipulation. That is the basis of the Perception Wars.”

Alex Hollings’ Perception Wars describes how foreign governments are trying to shape American public opinion by manipulating their perceptions. Hollings singles out Russia and China and their ongoing information operations (IO) on American society. Whereas Moscow is focused on shaping opinion through pseudo-accounts and unobjective journalism, China is purchasing its way toward the “stable, reasonable 21st century power.”

The book begins by introducing the concepts and historical background of IO. Articles on World War II and Cold War propaganda efforts provide a link to history and its continuity. Thereafter, Hollings enters the modern arena. He provides four sections (Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and American) that are brimming with colorful, informative, and entertaining articles on the ongoing battle for perceptions.

Hollings is essentially equating national propaganda and information operations to business marketing campaigns. He argues that the predominance of social media offers foreign governments the ideal platform to individually target Americans and shape their beliefs, perceptions, and subsequently their opinions. And it is a reasonable claim. It might seem simplistic, but, more often than not, people are motivated by the same incentives when it comes to buying a new iPhone or performing their citizen’s right (e.g., voting).