From the John Adams Recommended Reading List, The Hidden Persuaders is worthy book reading, mainly because it shows you how easy it is to manipulate the masses. It goes over the advertising industry and their practices in the 1940s and 1950s in how they strategically will help corporations sell their products to the masses using deceptive techniques. You get to learn the world of the Ad Men whose job it is to figure out how to subconsciously manipulate the human mind of the consumer to buy or consume a product they probably don't need and are instead made to want. These Ad Men use our deepest wants, fears, and insecurities as motivations that would get us to buy stuff we don't need especially coming off the heels of the Great Depression when people were in a conserving mode. The book goes over how the advertising agencies use the Freudian psychological research on the human psyche to craft manipulative advertising.
I think a book like this is put out there on purpose by the powers that be with Vance Packard as the front man author to warn us all, that we are being manipulated into buying unnecessary crap. I think this takes the heat off those who are conning us and balances things out for them. If a book like this is put out there and lots of people read it (Hidden Persuaders was a best seller) and do nothing about it and keep getting duped, then those who are deceiving us don't feel bad.