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Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator Hardcover – July 19, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 302 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Ryan Holiday is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy, and all results…this whiz kid is the secret weapon you've never heard of."
—Tim Ferriss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek

“A playbook for the dark arts of exploiting the media”
—Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power

"This book will make online media giants very, very uncomfortable. "
— Drew Curtis, founder, Fark.com

“Ryan Holiday's brilliant exposé of the unreality of the Internet should be required reading for every thinker in America.”
— Edward Jay Epstein, author of The Big Picture

 “The strategies Ryan created to exploit blogs drove sales of millions of my books and made me an internationally known name.” —Tucker Max, #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
“Ryan has a truly unique perspective on the seedy underbelly of digital culture.”
—Matt Mason, Director of Marketing, BitTorrent

“Behind my reputation as marketing genius there is Ryan Holiday, whom I consult often and has done more for my business than just about anyone.”
—Dov Charney, CEO and founder, American Apparel

"...an astonishing, disturbing book"

Financial Times

“In the world of the internet celebrity, Ryan Holiday is the smart and handsome type, like the Arthur Miller to the girl who uploads YouTube videos of herself naked and eating ice cream.”
—Ladygunn Magazine
"This is a dark book with an important warning to clients and PR people alike."

—Richard Edelman

"[Like] Upton Sinclair on the blogosphere."

—Tyler Cowen, MarginalRevolution.com

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is a media strategist for notorious clients such as Tucker Max and Dov Charney. After dropping out of college at 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, he went on to advise many bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians. He is currently the director of marketing at American Apparel, where his work is internationally known. His campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company. He currently lives in New Orleans and writes at RyanHoliday.net.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (July 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184553X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845539
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I avoided reading this book because I had read some of Holiday's articles online about how HARO was flawed. I'm a digital native and a blogger so I was aware of these flaws, and didn't need these pointed out to me.

I have never been so glad to be mistaken. This book is primarily about how businesses can manipulate the blogosphere in order to get 'credible' publications to cover them. I consider myself to be an ethical blogger and I found myself nodding constantly when he brought up examples. Heck, I've been caught up in PR firestorms online so have first-hand experience about a lot of what Ryan said.

The book structure is flawed, as others have said. At times, it feels repetitive. It was brilliantly written though, which I know is a contradiction. There was a number of times I just wished he'd get to his well-written point.

I've read the other reviews and I suspect the anger is moreso because we've been manipulated, rather then a flaw in writing. It does make a lot of digital content creators - and those that consume online content - look like morons. And, it can be hard to shake the feeling you are being manipulated. I recommend shaking off those feelings. Everyone who works in marketing/PR needs to read this book so they know the rules of the new digital landscape. If you aren't aware of these techniques, they can be used against you.

Highly recommended. You don't have to use the techniques he talks about. You just need to know about them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book makes the other books I have read on social media and blogging virtually worthless. Holiday lays out more effective plans, proven by his track record, and pulls it off for less money. If you have any interest in business, social media, or blogging than it is a must read.

That said, I think it does ultimately fall short of its potential for a few specific reasons. The good outweighs the shortcomings, but there are people I won't recommend the book to because of them. First, the good.

The Good

* Ryan Holiday can write. He is a great writer, and this is a refreshing read.
* Gut-wrenching info on the structure of today's media. Literally made me sick to my stomach at points.
* Content is very strong, delivers high value for the money. If you are thinking about getting this, get it - you will get the best marketing advice you have read for a pittance.
* Well-researched, funny, and an entertaining read.

The Bad

* The structure of this book is a little muddled. It's really three books in one. First, it is a confession of what Holiday has done for his clients. Secondly, its a book on how you can do it yourself. And lastly, its a book that proves that you should not do it and should actively fight against how the media is structured.
* Because of the three-books-in-one, I have found that I have fewer people in my sphere to recommend it to. There are many people that I wish I could give the warnings about the media portion to, but the other parts of the book would be useless to them. For me, and probably for any entrepreneur, the whole book is valuable - for the general public, not so sure.

The Ugly

* The writing is very good, the content is excellent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Make no mistake. This is not some reformed offender coming clean after some soul searching, as the author is attempting to project himself. And no, this book is not a free manifesto to download to help us clueless masses get enlightened about the ways of the media. No sir! This is a man with an overpriced product to sell, a man out to remove money from your pocket using the exact same tricks he deployed in his book for his clients.

In the book he talks about Jeff Ritze (one of his many fake profiles) who went about planting deceptive stories (using fake email addresses) in the media to help his clients manipulate public perception, sell more and make a fortune.

The author continues to use that self-same deception to now sell THIS book.

In the book's description he says, "Why am I giving away these secrets?...I'm pulling back the curtain because I don't want anyone else to get blindsided". But alas, he goes about promoting this book using the exact same fraud that he describes delivering for his clients.

Here are some of them...

1) Fake profiles
'C.L.Mershon' was the FIRST person to give this book a 5-star review. CL Mershon then hangs out in the comments section, answering questions from readers, bending over backwards to resolve their queries, as if he were the CUSTOMER SUPPORT person for the book! And if that was not enough of a giveaway, he then religiously UPDATES his review to bring you Ryan Holiday's "LATEST" exploits in the media. :)

2) Assistants that neutralize enemies on the net
One of the reasons I updated this review is to inform readers about the speed with which people swarmed in and marked my review UNHELPFUL.
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Format: Paperback
I've been in the communications/public relations world for a number of years. I've worked for the U.S. federal government, private companies and non-profits. This book was referenced by a student in my master's program and I decided to pick it up at the local bookstore and give it a read.

It is not often I don't finish a book I start, but unfortunately I found "Trust Me, I'm Lying" to be a complete waste of time. Maybe I come at it from an angle to educated on the subject to be entertained by Ryan Holiday's "ground breaking" discoveries and maybe I just expect better writing.

First, discoveries: Nothing Holiday writes is "new." There are good actors and bad actors in the world of PR. This is true of any industry. The bad "flacks" tarnish the image of the good "flacks" just as a bad doctor tarnishes the image of a good doctor. Holiday comes from the world of "bad flacks." That's fine. The truth eventually catches up with them. Bad individuals and bad firms earn reputations that follow them around. Do they find work? Sure. So do criminals though. That's not a testiment to their virtue. "Look we can shape opinions with cleverly crafted lies." The crafting isn't clever and shaping opinions with lies is nothing new.

Second, the writing: Bad. Just bad. Holiday's writing reminds me of a few papers I wrote in my early high school days, where I was searching for filler. You know the kind of paper.... restating the exact same idea 10 ways to get 10 paragraphs. Now extend this idea from the early high school filler paper to an entire book. It's exhausting and sad. But then, this is what happens when someone writes "above their paygrade.
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