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Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  4,924 ratings  ·  728 reviews
Recent years have seen a revival of the heated culture wars of the 1990s, but this time its battle ground is the internet. On one side the alt right ranges from the once obscure neo-reactionary and white separatist movements, to geeky subcultures like 4chan, to more mainstream manifestations such as the Trump-supporting gay libertarian Milo Yiannopolous. On the other side, ...more
ebook, 136 pages
Published June 30th 2017 by Zero Books
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  4,924 ratings  ·  728 reviews

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Start your review of Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
Jul 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally didn't want to read this book, only having read a few excerpts whining about Tumblr (more specifically, trigger warnings and gender identity) that made me not want to touch it. The book kept popping up on my newsfeed, and so I decided to read it to see if it fulfills its hype (Spoiler alert: it doesn't).

In the past, I spent 2 years on 4chan (on /b/) and 2+ years on Tumblr (following liberals and then marxists). That normally means nothing, but Nagle doesn't cite a single sentence i
Jun 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Some interesting stuff on various internet subcultures, but otherwise yeesh. Nagle is willing to sympathise with the bigoted subcultures present on 4chan/reddit in order to fully interpret the ideas & motivations behind their politics, but is largely unwilling to do the same with tumblr, even when they stem from legitimate grievances.

She seems to have it in for trigger warnings in particular, culminating in this winning line:
Trigger warnings had to be issued in order to avoid the unexpectedly h
I was expecting to be interested in this, but I didn't expect to be so impressed by it. Angela Nagle writes so even-handedly and with such a fair critical eye about recent iterations of disruptive political groupings on both the right and left. On the right is the now-notorious alt-right, divided between the 'alt-light', typified by meme-making/gleefully antagonistic trolling/use of 4chan-derived argot, and the more genuinely fascistic tendencies often masked by the headline-grabbing behaviour o ...more
David M
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book that makes a compelling case that sociopathy is in fact a bad thing.

Also, that nerds are actually much worse than jocks.

A highly unsympathetic cyber genealogy of the 'alt-right' that is at the same time an unsparing account of the vicious stupidity of woke liberal twitter shaming.

Reading it will likely leave you in a state of deep despair and misanthropy. Hard to avoid the conclusion that we simply lack the intellectual tools to escape collective ruin.

A truly terrible review from Count
Jul 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I was very disappointed by this book. I grew up on and with the Internet and I love reading about culture wars. However, in addition to inexcusably sloppy editing and bad writing (Please, someone ask Angela Nagle about "Barak" Obama or Peter "Theil," or why she's apparently on a first name basis with Milo Yiannopoulos despite consistently referring to others by their surnames), the book lacks any kind of affection for any of these subcultures. That is, I would have expected her to take a side. A ...more
Sara Salem
Aug 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty terrible. Sympathises with the alt-right while providing a weak analysis of the left, and ultimately seems to blame the left for the rise of the right.
tl;dr: Eh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Nagle brings a lot of valuable research and firsthand reporting to helping people make sense of the various facets of the alt-right, but it wasn't nearly as compelling as I was expecting from a book about the internet communities that have emerged in the past decade. The best parts are the really detailed outlines of the various factions of the right's anti-feminist and white supremacist groups, as well as the philosophical explanations of the anti-moral subversive nature of 4
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
edit: its only about 3 months old, but has already aged poorly

mostly a fun, easy read, but drifts off into some very sketchy territory, especially when discussing tumblr and trigger warnings. Completely put off by the following quotation, where Nagle seems think that you can't get PTSD from anything other than war: "Trigger warnings had to be issued in order to avoid the unexpectedly high number of young women who had never gone to war claiming to have pos
Putting aside for a moment that the book would be entirely opaque to anyone who hasn't lived it; that it is in urgent need of every kind of editing from content to organizational to basic copy (e.g."Aids crisis" on pg. 63); that the author believes political horseshoe theory, that military combat veterans are the only people who can truly lay claim to PTSD, that The Young Turks are a great leftist news site, and that MRAs seek egalitarianism; the conflation of feminism and the sexual revolution; ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
(Prefatory edit: to acknowledge the elephant in the room as of Nov 2018, Nagle has been (correctly) excommunicated from the left for some pretty atrocious arguments she made. While I normally think the correct position is to separate out the creator of a work from the work itself, it's hard not to read this as an empirical confirmation of some of the main critiques levelled at KAN, that it was undergirded by a kind of cultural conservatism. I continue to think that there's something valuable in ...more
May 30, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017
"What the Tumblrites embody is a taxonomical politics which is driven (drive in psychoanalytic terms) by the techno-fetishist belief in pure communication and individual empowerment. It is in this way that language has become so central to politics. The clarification of terms, the bracketing of difference and the weighing of utterances from different subject positions, cis-males at the bottom, all attempt to make the banality of online life urgent and political. In a manner that mirrors the data ...more
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: altright
First of all: Holy shit. This is a book that I have been waiting to read for quiet some time now, but the level of insight and highly comprehensive discussion of what is going on in the cultural wars on the Web by Nagle exceeded my expectations. It reminded me of early works by Naomi Klein which combined the journalistic approach to the material at hand with detailed, but still accessible discussion of the theoretical aspect of the subject.

Nagle discusses the ongoing (or lost?) cultural war betw
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one.
Really disappointed by this. I'm fascinated by internet subcultures and the seedy underbelly of the web. I'm deeply interested in politics. This book seemed like a slam-dunk.

Its a joke. For the sake of brevity I'm just going to make a list:
-There is a laughable lack of editing. Numerous names and terms are mis-spelled, including President Barack Obama's name. On the first page. In the first paragraph. On the first line.

-There is a lack of organization. It jumps around from topic to topic, time
Sander Philipse
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Nagle's account of the rise of the alt-right is rendered analytically useless by a largely uncritical repetition of alt-right mythology (are they actually reacting to Tumblr, or to empowerment?), a failure to account for power structures, race-blindness (whither Black Lives Matter?), hostility to the entire concept of marginalized groups making particular claims, ignorance of many continuities (money and all) with and historical precedents for right-wing 'transgressive' racism and misogyny, and ...more
Karl Hallbjörnsson
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Some reservations toward this book. It seems mostly just as if it's unfinished; typos abound, strangely wrong quips about PTSD, unclear and sporadic theses, repeatedly bafflingly caricaturistic presentations of Friedrich Nietzsche, etc. It felt like the book was in dire need of a good editor most of the time.

It seems to me that the book could have been an important and momentous document of the internet „wars“ of recent times, but that it got rushed and a little hamfistedly thrown into publicat
Laura Peña
WHERE! WAS! THE! EDITOR!!!!!! what the hell!!! Clearly from the chapter railing against Tumblr politics, we know Nagle is NOT someone who would ever be ~decolonizing grammar~. So what is the explanation for this????? Was there just no copy editor? Did I accidentally read a draft edition? There were sentences with words missing, there were repeated sentences within a paragraph that seemed to indicate she changed her mind about where to place it in the sentence but forgot to delete the original pl ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Can't recommend this one highly enough. And to everyone. Essential to understanding how the death spiral of our national discourse *can only be understood dialectically.* Nagle makes the compelling case that the success of the alt-right and what she calls the alt-light (not really overtly Nazi, more capitalizing on the newfound glamour of fascist thought) in their endeavor to shift American culture toward a misogynistic, overtly racist direction is rooted in the so-called left's reliance on the ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A shockingly comprehensive read in just 100 pages. I'll definitely need to reread it to absorb all of it, but (to me) the main themes were:

* Society changed significantly between the 2012 and 2016 elections, mostly as the result of online subcultures breaking into the real world (from the Left and Right) and stealing ground from the center-left and center-right.
* The Alt-Right has copied tactics from the Left circa 1960-now in order to successfully win a lot of followers, media attention and pow
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
Interesting run-down of certain internet subcultures and how they've fueled, and been fueled by, the current political climate. However, the lack of citations and formless flow had me head-scratching in quite a few places. Also needed a good editorial polish as well. Great topic, but the execution wasn't all it could be.

It DID illuminate me on just WTF it was I saw happening on the internet during the 2016 election, though. I didn't witness everything Nagle describes, but I saw enough to be conf
Possibly in Michigan, London
May 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this very quickly, swept along by its nowness. I kept thinking that she probably doesn't know that thing is over now (Milo, a White House employee etc) but it's as up-to-date as it's possible to be. There are so many things that I didn't get (and the rubbish grammar didn't help). She seemed incapable of giving any nuance to left politics, while the trajectory and shape of the current right was very well-laid out. I feel like (bearing in mind that I haven't read much else on the alt-right) ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019-books
i hate this book. it's written like a rushed undergraduate thesis, smarmy and self-projecting. i've been in and out of the internet circles in question (4chan in particular) for years and as someone who watched this culture beget itself, the lack of citations and references is offensive. the editor of this book should be dragged behind a barn and sternly lectured. myriad mistakes include mispellings of the names of popular figures (including "barak" obama), vague references to statistics, and th ...more
Conor Ahern
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
So this pithy book packs a lot in.

Reading this, I started thinking about the Internet as the opposite of what we consider to be Society. I'm venturing beyond my pay grade here, but Society seems good for, perhaps above all else, suppressing your amygdala a bit and clamping down on those animal urges. It's a functional trade--we swap immediate gratification for safety and predictability, in an equilibrium that is always changing based on who is contributing and what they bring to the equation. E
Antti Rautiainen
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book, I read plenty of anarchist and leftist critiques, but they seem to miss the point. Yes, Nagle does not cite her sources, there is copypaste from wikipedia, and she is kind of lame and moralistic moderate social-democrat and so are her policy recommendations.

But that does not mean that the main point of her book, analysis of the online right is not highly talented and on point. With exception of the fifth chapter attacking "Tumblr feminism", and conclusions, this book i
Todd N
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I believe this book has the highest standard deviation of review scores of any book I’ve read on Goodreads, which for movies is a good indicator of a cult classic.

I’m not an extremely on-line politics person, so I found this to be an really concise and useful guide to the roots of the on-line right and how it all ties in to today’s broader political climate.

In those old John Hughes movies the rich jock kids were always the bad guys. Well, it turns out the shy, nerdy kids are actually way, way wo
Bernard O'Leary
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A pretty great bit of critical theory about how the alt-right have arrived to they are, although it's let down by some bizarrely vituperative passages about the identity politics of Tumblr.

Nagle proposes an interesting idea about the concept of the radical outsider who rejects mainstream morality and instead seeks his own identity, an idea that can be traced from De Sade through to Nietzche until you get to the counter-culture of the 60s.

They tried to weaponise moral transgression as a way of b
Greg Brown
Nagle does a good job of laying out and explaining many of the alt-right's pet tropes and running jokes, but her analysis is really disappointing and ultimately buys into the right's same errant argument that "politics is downstream of culture". For a lot of the '90s and '00s, that assertion seemed to be true, as neoliberal aims took over both parties and so much of the material basis of politics went off-limits. When culture war is the entire game, of course it's going to seem like the most imp ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to this but was really disappointed after reading it. It's massively under-researched, with some extremely dubious conclusions that the critical theory stuff doesn't help support. Read my full review here: ...more
Abby Elizabeth
Sep 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It blends all the right topics--politics, sociology, Internet culture--and I spent a significant portion of my adolescence on both Tumblr and 4chan, so the subject material is both familiar and fascinating to me. I sat down to read it with true eagerness...and emerged horribly, horribly disappointed. Three main points:

1. The writing is horrible from a technical viewpoint. Spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical errors abound, some of whi
Well, I imagine my complaints will be similar to those of most -- Nagle plays her game a bit fast and loose, and also ascribing equal blame and distaste to Tumblr idiots and alt-right types is a bit foolish when the former are merely obnoxious, while the latter are fucking lizard people.

But... But but but! Her heart is truly in the right place, and her writing is often excellent. It's very good at describing a place and time, even if, given the accelerating pace of cultural change (q.v. the rise
Apr 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
I stopped taking it seriously by the end of chapter 1 when the author decided to go out of their way to talk about how stupid they thought Zoe Quinn's "Depression Quest" looked without having played it. (Spoiler: It doesn't "fetishize mental illness" and to say it does, especially while admitting to not having played it, means you fell right into Gamer Gate's trap, despite all your careful research.)

Throughout the rest of the book, they draw false equivalencies between the alt-right and "tumblr
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Angela Nagle is a writer whose work has appeared in The Baffler, Current Affairs and Jacobin. Her first book, Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right was recently released by Zero Books. ...more

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