What happens when the state starts bending facts or imagines illusory opposition parties? A work of historical and political anthropology, The Encrypted State closely examines political crisis in order to further understand the notion of political stability. It does so by focusing on an agrarian region and administrative department in the northern Peruvian Andes during the struggling dictatorship of General Odria (1948-1956). Using an in-depth analysis of state-level paranoia, lies, and deflection in mid-century Peru, David Nugent argues that the state is always a mask, and those who seek a successful hold to political power are able to normalize and legitimize their rule. Combining archival and ethnographic research, Nugent raises new questions about state formation in the grip of crisis, and what we can learn from states that fail to normalize and legitimize their rule.