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Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  314 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Behind the front lines of every war in the world, prisoners are forced to sit for interrogation: manipulated, coerced, and sometimes tortured--often without ever being touched. Brainwash is a history of the methods intended to destroy and reconstruct the minds of captives, to extract information, convert dissidents, and lead peaceful men to kill and be killed.

With access t
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Picador (first published June 29th 2006)
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Carmen
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a strong stomach
This low rating is not because this was a bad book.

On the contrary, it is well-written, well-researched, interesting, and informative.

It's just that the subject material is SO DARK.

Torture.
The CIA giving drugs to unsuspecting people.
The CIA preying on criminals and prostitutes - people who can't or won't go to the cops - and experimenting on them.
More torture.
Hypnotism.
Does heavy metal make teenagers kill people? - I think this is total bull and the author seem to agree with me.
Psychiatrists who
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Savo
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dominic Streatfeild has done an incredible amount of research and conducted numerous interviews with those who used the methods he writes about and also the victims of such methods.

The author does not insist on his point of view, but compares and contrasts available information and leaves the room for the readers to come up with their own conclusions.

This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the history of mind control and the current use of it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and
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Jim
First off, the author, Dominic Streatfeild should be commended for a very solid job of reporting. A rare skill today.

Brainwash answered for me a question * Is a Manchurian Candidate style brainwashing possible ? Where an individual is unaware of secret instructions implanted through brainwashing techniques; instruction that can be triggered by a handler in the future.

My take away from the book is no. People can be seriously temporarily & permanently messed up: confused, physiologically brok
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Brian
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sad news, comrades: Mind control isn't really possible.

Oh, sure, you can get people to say just about anything you like. You can temporarily reorient behavior and even values. But the key word is "temporarily," and the techniques are well known and time tested.

If you want a how-to guide, in other words, you're much better off with Robert J. Lifton's classic Mao-era study Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. Or, for that matter, the Malleus Maleficarum. They break it all down -- stress
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David Kenrick
Dominic Streatfeild's book is an interesting and highly readable account of mind control experiments undertaken after the Second World War to around the 1970s. It casts its net wide and covers the following topics in thematic (rather than strictly chronological) chapters.

>Drugs
>Interrogation Techniques
>Hypnosis
>Subliminal Messaging
>Sensory Deprivation
>Religious Cults
>False Memories

This is all very interesting and Streatfeild does a great job of using personal testimony to sa
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Erik Angle
I had a nice, detailed rant typed up, but Goodreads deleted it, so here goes a less detailed rant:

The Good: I learned quite a bit, and was given avenues down which to pursue further reading on the topic. Despite the page count, the writing never felt dense or dry. This was something of a challenging read (I like being challenged).

The Bad: I learned not nearly enough, given the voluminous length of this book. Brainwash is not exhaustive; it is, as the cover blurb says, a survey. The author includ
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Donna Ledesma
when i saw this among the bargain books, i was like, this book is really for me. i read this almost a year ago and prior to that i already had enough idea of MK-ULTRA, CIA brainwashing and all the conspiracies here in this world we live in. so the moment i took hold of Brainwash, there's no turning back. surprises me that even the music industry mind control was included in the book.

Brainwash is a very interesting, entertaining book. especially for those interested in conspiracies and whatnot. t
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Blanca
This guy is amazing, but this subject did not keep my interest enough. It is very thorough investigative journalism, but the conspiracy theory has never been a big draw for me, despite the writing being good. His book Cocaine is fantastic and I think more appealing because he draws the relevance of cocaine in anyone's life, and makes us think how ingrained it is in our lives without us being aware. Government mind control is a little less impacting to everyone, and I think that where it lost me.
James
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A poorly written book, the author skips around, sometimes he comes back to a subject, sometimes not.

He starts off with the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, but never tells us what really happened.
الله سلمى
Nov 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author is trying to defend a lost case with no rational evidences! The book isn't worth the ink and the papers. I am sorry to waste my time!
JonSnow
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You might be wondering what precisely this book is about based on its title. Is it some hodgepodge of conspiracy theory? Well the answer is no.

This book came recommended to me by a political science professor from university. It seeks to delve into the history of attempts at mind control, loosely speaking. In actual fact it has served to dispel a lot of the nonsense out there. It turns out, that everything from ARTICHOKE to MKULTRA resulted in almost nothing but a lesson in wasted time and money
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Valerie
I enjoyed this book but it fucked me up.
Nicola
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those meaty, satisfying non-fiction reads that it’s nonetheless hard to say too much about. It was... good? I... enjoyed it? I... will probably have forgotten it by next month?

Brainwash explores various avenues of mind control from the past century: from state-sponsored experimentation with ‘truth drugs’ to academic explorations of sensory deprivation tanks that cause participants to begin hallucinating within hours.

Inevitably, some chapters are better than others (the ‘messages
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Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2014
Difficult to say exactly why I enjoyed this so much, because there was nothing which stood out about the writing, but I thought it very good indeed. Perhaps it was that the information was put across seamlessly without 'owt jarring.

The author examines a variety of situations in which 'mind control' has been used (or suspected) and discusses the facts behind them. Subliminal messages in heavy metal, interrogation of spies/terrorists, psychotherapy, religious cults, intelligence agencies, magic mu
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Willow Redd
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at the various methods and attempts at mind control through the years. Starting with the Moscow Show Trials and Korean prisoners making claims against their own country, research began to discover if the human mind could be remade into something else, if memory could be tampered with, if what makes a person who they are could be altered or adjusted to fit the needs of a given operation.

This book covers some of the stranger experiments in interrogation and brainwashing by gover
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Caty
Nov 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the middle of reading: As CIA's MK-ULTRA has long been an interest of mine, there's a lot I already know, but I love Streatfield b/c he seems to have no capacity to edit his research--he gives you EVERYTHING, in a chatty tone full of gallows humor. In this case, that's really working for me so far. Had no idea Robert Graves played such an instrumental role in the intro of shrooms to the West, for example. (See, he's tangential--what does that have to do w/mind control? Well, psyclobin was one ...more
Cypress Butane
Great book. Covers a lot of material, goes in depth on many topics and manages to tie it all back in. Definitely a keeper. Don't know if it's entirely comprehensive but it definitely covers a good amount, and very well at that. And also has a lot of leads on other historical books about mind control.

Recommend this in conjunction with Acid Dreams: The Complete Cultural History of the CIA, LSD and the Sixties Rebellion by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain Both share some ideosyncrasies and benefit f
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Andrew
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed by Streatfield's second book, since I loved his first so much. He definitely manages to exhaust the topic, but he doesn't have the personalized tone and humour that made Cocaine so enjoyable. Each chapter follows the same pattern. He tells a story about some mysterious case of brainwashing, backs up to give you the history and background of that particular type of brainwashing, and then finishes the story. I would only recommended it to people really interested in the s ...more
Arnav Shah
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This one is more about the journey than the destination. Streatfeild sets up a gripping story in the beginning that leaves you wanting to know what has happened - overly so. Then throughout the book, he explores a variety of cases where mind control and manipulation was pursued. They range from public court cases to under-wraps government experiments. His investigation appears thorough and thoughtfully conducted. And while this book is not an easy read, the cases are very engaging and revealing ...more
زينب
Very good book to anyone interested in this topic. He pretty much covered everything (science, history... etc.). The only problem is the writing. It gets really boring at times that I am literally forcing myself to read on. He also keeps repeating stuff and giving unnecessary details. Other than this it was worth the read and I learned quite a lot about this interesting topic.
Liliana
Sep 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
It is baffling to me to see how much human beings are able to hurt each other in the name of a goal that they are after be it patriotism, money, religion,search for the truth. All of these have been touted as a reason to brainwash another human being. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Pity the person who ends up in the power of another.
Jocelyn
I was very excited about reading this book because I loved Streatfeild's previous book, Cocaine. This book was also very well researched, but so so DRY. I was intrigued by the subject matter, but the book did not hold my attention the way Cocaine did.
Craig
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An very interesting history of brainwashing and the efforts of intelligence services to harness it to their requirements.
Brendan  McAuliffe
You could actually just read chapter 1 , 10 and the epilouge and skip the rest, but, overall okay
Elie
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
good information but boring at times.
Siying Dong
Weird book I ever browsed. The book is called "brain wash" but only in the last chapter it says brainwash doesn't exist.
Bas
A fascinating read. Well researched, and easily read. Each chapter is something of a vignette with a story to illustrate the point.
Patrick Shea
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will change everything you think you know about brainwashing, mind control, and interrogation.
Laura Faughnan
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
so good...and scary...
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Dominic Streatfeild is an author, freelance journalist and documentary maker based in the UK who specialises in military and security issues.

Streatfeild studied at Kings College London, has served in the British Armed Forces, worked for the BBC and as an independent documentary maker and journalist.

Streatfeild's television work includes BBC2’s Exocet detailing MI6 and the SAS’s clandestine war for
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