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Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  111 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
In China, university students use the Internet to save the life of an attempted murder victim. In Cuba, authorities unsuccessfully try to silence an online critic by sowing seeds of distrust in her marriage. And in Russia, a lone blogger rises to become one of the most prominent opposition figures since the fall of the Soviet Union. Authoritarian governments try to isolate ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books
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Jonathan Mckay
The best book I've read on digital activism, and the best book I've read in 2015.

Parker focuses on heart wrenching stories that take place in China, Russia, and Cuba, and details in an unparalleled way the human element of online activists. I don't know how else to put it, but Parker gets it. She the understands the cultural context in which activism is taking place, and does a good job in explaining how activism leads to non-uniform results that are heavily dependant on the personalities of th
Daniel Parker
Really outstanding account of how wannabe democrats around the world use the internet to expose the problems in their society, culture, and governments. I learned quite a bit by reading these accounts. One thing for sure. Keep supporting the world wide web and net neutrality. corrupt governments will eventually capsize on the free flow of information via the web, twitter, blogging, facebook, etc. It may not have been the author's intention, but if Americans want to value their freedom more, read ...more
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By profiling internet activists in repressive regimes, Parker creates a portrait not just of dissent and the possibilities of internet activism, but she also helps create a picture of exactly what censorship and repression looks like in the modern age. It's a thoroughly engrossing read, and anyone looking to understand what democratic activism looks like in a technologically saturated world should read this book.
Zara Rahman
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really great - finally, a book about internet and society that focuses on views from parts of the world other than simply the US and Europe, written by someone who clearly has extensive experience in various different cultures as well as the ability to speak to people in their own languages and really understand their perspectives. It was refreshing to get these different perspectives, and an interesting read too!
Chris Aylott
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parker gives a clear-eyed appraisal of the challenges facing and strengths of online dissident movements in China, Cuba and Russia. She does a particularly good job of presenting the viewpoints of the people she profiles, showing how the cultures they have grown up in influence their speech and their assumptions.
Saw Emily Parker speak at New America Foundation in New York and was so impressed I bought the book after the talk. It did not disappoint. Parker is a sold writer - forceful but never overstating her points. She is also a thorough interviewer as reflected in the full portraits of Internet activists throughout the book.
Lee Parker
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this for free through Goodreads First Reads

This nonfiction book was fascinating!! You don't really realize how bad people in other countries have it. The section on China was a real eye opener. Very glad I read this.
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this book. Very engaging and insightful. As a Cuban-born writer myself, I couldn't appreciate it more.
Timely and very interesting to read about how the internet is used and censored in China and Russia.
Nina Huang
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so engaging that I felt like a spectator of a thriller movie, watching the author traveling to authoritarian countries to meet dissidents and activists in sometimes dangerous settings. The picture it paints is vivid and the characters multifaceted, yet the book is very informative.

The author did a great job of documenting changes to the Internet in China, Cuba, and Russia through the personal narratives of online activists. The author herself is part of the story as well. While vis
Stephen Rynkiewicz
Weren't we clever running an underground newspaper in high school? It had the whiff of samizdat--manuscripts self-published outside Soviet review. Yet though our zine had escaped the authority of adult editors, we had nothing to say worth their notice. Jump to this decade, where Emily Parker has made a study of self-publishing in China, Cuba and Russia. Free speech is harder to stifle in the internet age, but the suppression gives it authority.

China's message of resistance is coded; clampdowns a
Hayley DeRoche
"Reality looks static until it's not," Parker writes in the Afterword to this book. This seems a fitting way to summarize the themes of the book, and it's noteworthy when you look at what's happened since the 2014 publication of this title (Alexei Navalny in particular). While not the most riveting nonfiction title, this was a solid enough read.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The summary on this site gives a good preview of the book. I would characterize it as most interesting but not surprising. Did seem a little dated.
Ken Braley
"Now I Know Who My Comrades Are" takes it's title from one of the author's many conversations with Zhao Jing, one of China's most well know bloggers, who writes under the pen name Michael Anti. Emily Parker, is currently a digital diplomacy adviser and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and previously was a member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's policy planning staff, where she focused on digital diplomacy, internet freedom, and open government. In this book, Parker gives insig ...more
Kareem Saleh
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is one of the most riveting and enriching books I’ve ever read.

I’m not particularly interested in the Internet, so I approached this book with some trepidation, only to be delighted and deeply affected by its rich on-the-ground portrait of 21st century dissidents in China, Russia and Cuba. In this riveting page-turner, the author, who traveled extensively (and in some cases at great personal risk) takes you to the streets and back alleys of Beijing, Havana and Mosc
David Sasaki
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback
I consider Emily a friend and, rather than writing a typical review, I had intended to interview her about the book. Unfortunately, I never got past the intention. Among the questions I wanted to ask:

I assume you were already writing (or, at least, researching) your book when the Arab Spring took place in North Africa. And there were all those massive social media-fueled protests in Turkey, Mexico and Brazil. Ironically, the three countries featured in your book -- Cuba, China, and Russia -- are
Joe User
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, written by a long-time journalist who's worked for both the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times, analyzes how dissidents in three authoritarian countries are using the Internet to change the realities on the ground. Fast paced and informative, the writing brings readers onto the streets and into the digital networks of China, Cuba and Russia, and shows how the psychological afflictions of isolation, fear and apathy respectively affect each country.

The book is based on extensive, in-
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Internet activism explored in detail in China, Cuba, and Russia. This is really an eye opening account of how governments attempt to keep the status quo through isolation, fear and apathy. Isolaton through censorship; fear through arrests and intimidation; and apathy through fostering a sense of helplessness. How internet activists attempt to spur change by using social networks to bring people together. Emily Parker has presented an important work. I would love to see another such in depth repo ...more
Veronika Bel
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an accessible and fascinating way to connect three countries with unique liberty and freedom expression struggles and tease out the common denominators. A page turner that leaves you wanting and researching more. As a native Russian speaker, the Russia section was accurate and realistic. It hit a nerve. I expected to enjoy it the most. But, I was surprised just how enthralled I was with the Cuba and China sections - two countries I knew little about. Parker made me want to learn more, not j ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is doomed to quickly become obsolete, considering the pace at which things move on the internet. However, this feels like the most politically important book I've read since 'Half the Sky' was released 5-ish years ago; I would love to see it get the same level of attention. I found this book incredibly enlightening and educational - my eyes have been opened to issues I was once completely ignorant about.

[Full disclosure: I won this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.]
Samuel Greene
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, though-provoking excursion into the lives of otherwise ordinary people who find themselves at odds with their governments in three countries where being at odds with the government is often ill advised. The book is less about the Internet than it is about how people interact with power and develop their own sense of empowerment, providing a sobering look both at what new communications technologies can help people achieve, and at how much still remains to be accomplished.
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice structure, focusing three different sections of the book on three different countries--China, Russia, and Cuba. It was also a very readable narrative format, broken into blog-sized chunks for nice, episodic digestability. At times, I would have liked a little more discussion and analysis of how U.S. policy shapes blogging infrastructure across the globe--and potentially some concrete recommendations for policy improvement.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid presentation of how the internet has been used in China, Cuba, and Russia in the face of isolation, fear, and apathy (respectively). The portions on China and Cuba are the most compelling. Echoing this review, what's lacking here is any kind of synthesis of the three parts.
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2015
I received this as a first read. I really liked this book. It definitely interesting with a lot of stories about the internet. I did enjoy that author showed the positive side of the internet, but did talk about the challenges. A really good nonfiction book.
Cheryl D
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An informative and somewhat unnerving book. The internet will never be the same after you examine the ideas put forth by the author. The only negative the book is somewhat repetitive in places. It was also borrowed by a friend who cited it in a college paper. She thought it was an excellent read.
Chuck Knudsen
Parker looks at dissidents in China, Russia, and Cuba, to see how the Internet is changing the way activists...activate. It was really interesting stuff, but each section seemed to be a bit too long.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great insight into how the internet shapes dissent in countries controlled by authoritarian governments
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Russian chapter is very, very good, all main characters introduced, and good analysis as well.
rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2015
Angad Mahal
rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2014
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Emily Parker is the author of "Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices From the Internet Underground" which will be published by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux in February, 2014. Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, wrote that the book is "a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller. It's been a while since I have read a bo ...more
More about Emily Parker...