Winner of the 2002 Marshal McLuhan Award for Best Media Book!

They say that you’re using only ten percent of your brain. They say the corner office is a position of power. They say you can earn thousands of dollars a week in your spare time. They say that knowing your audience is more important than whatever it is you’re selling.

Who, exactly, are “they”? And why do we listen to them?

Douglas Rushkoff argues that we each have our own “theys” — bosses, pundits, authorities, both real and imaginary—whom we allow to shape our lives and manage our futures. Like parents, they can make us feel safe. They do our thinking for us. We don’t have to worry about our next move — it has already been decided on our behalf, and in our best interests. Or so we hope.

Unfortunately, not everyone to whom we surrender this control has our interests at heart. What’s more, Rushkoff says, as much as we try to resist them, they are always finding new and improved ways to manipulate us. Whether it’s a floor plan at a shopping mall designed to make us lose our bearings, a television ad that anticipates our reaction to advertising, or a tiny spy program planted on our computers by an Internet merchant, the world has become a battlefield of subtle persuasion. As soon as we think we’ve become familiar with their methods, these influence professionals work to move us into strange and unfamiliar territory—leading us like prey into a trap. We are caught in a kind of arms race, and with the rise of automated marketing in the last decade, the race has spun out of control.

A veteran of the media wars, Douglas Rushkoff is in a unique position to guide us through these societal hazards. For years a champion of the new media and a willing consultant as interactive technology was adapted by marketing professionals, he now casts a cold eye on the process by which such innovations have been co-opted by the powers-that-be. Rushkoff’s message is bracing, insightful, and indispensable for anyone who hopes to know how our most sophisticated marketing and media insiders are able stay one step ahead of our efforts to understand them.

“Bravo, Douglas Rushkoff. Not only is this book an engrossing read, but more important, it’s a great gift to consumers everywhere. I didn’t realize how vulnerable I was.” – David Shenk, author of Data Smog and The End of Patience

“An essential text for inhabitants of the media sphere. Rushkoff makes visible the ways our minds are not entirely our own.” – Howard Rheingold, author of Virtual Reality and Virtual Communities

“Read this book, and nobody gets hurt!” – Bob Kerry, Senator of Nebraska

Coercion compells. It documents the new media-war in which we are not merely targets, but also unwitting accomplices in the battle for a share of our minds, our pocketbooks, and even our souls. Read this book, and discover who is manipulating you.” – Paul Saffo, Director, Institute For The Future

Coercion spotlights the manipulative sides of commerce today, with a sobering look at its power in the Internet era. A must-read for anyone wanting an antidote to techno-utopianism.” – Mitchell Kapor

“With immense force and inimitable style, Douglas Rushkoff takes us on an engaging, frightening, and oddly exhilarating journey into the board rooms where compliance professionals hone their skills—as well as the shopping malls, sports arenas, TV commercials, and web sites in which they are implemented. Coercion is destined to be remembered as a watershed event in the battle between the marketing industry and the public it means to manipulate.” – David S. Bennahum , contributing editor, Wired

“With subversive clarity, Rushkoff exposes the secret war being waged for the hearts, minds, and dollars of Americans by the dark lords of government and commerce. The truth is out there, but Coercion brings it home.” – Walter Kirn, author of, She Needs Me and Thumbsucker