The Hidden Persuaders

By Vance Packard,

Book cover of The Hidden Persuaders

Book description

"One of the best books around for demystifying the deliberately mysterious arts of advertising."--Salon

"Fascinating, entertaining and thought-stimulating."--The New York Times Book Review

"A brisk, authoritative and frightening report on how manufacturers, fundraisers and politicians are attempting to turn the American mind into a kind of catatonic dough that will…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Hidden Persuaders as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I read this classic, published in 1957 when I was in high school. It was perhaps the first critique of advertising, and I found it fascinating.

Packard identified eight “compelling needs” that advertisers promise products will fulfill. Years later, I recognized how some of these needs were used to sell addictive products.

Although he didn’t address the objectification of women, he opened my eyes to the manipulative power of advertisers and the subconscious meaning of ads.  

Long before ‘nudge’ became a buzzword, Packard wrote this fascinating account of how US advertisers, from the 1930s onwards, developed psychological means for getting us to buy things we never even wanted.

Packed with case studies – such as why washing powder isn’t sold in yellow boxes and how to make insurance an impulse buy – this classic is as relevant today as its first edition in 1957. It’s a book with timeless warnings for controlling our finances.

Understanding that we are (still) being subliminally groomed to be part of the consumer society is a first step to reasserting our…

From Jonquil's list on insights for managing your money wisely.

If you think a book from 1957 doesn’t have anything to tell us, think again.

I loved this book when I discovered it as a teenager. It opened my eyes to how we’re all influenced and manipulated in our daily lives. Packard warned us, long before the age of social media, that if we weren’t careful, we’d lose our trust in democracy and our sense of freedom.

It sparked an early, and enduring, interest in how we need to remain externally vigilant, not only to obvious assaults on democracy, but also to less visible forces.

From Jerry's list on technology and democracy.

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