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Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  142 ratings  ·  23 reviews
From a rising star at The New Yorker , a deeply immersive chronicle of how the optimistic entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley set out to create a free and democratic internet--and how the cynical propagandists of the alt-right exploited that freedom to propel the extreme into the mainstream.

For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in two worlds.a
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Viking
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Start your review of Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
This is a difficult book to review. Depending on ones level of prior familiarity with the subject the author is discussing, it will feel either familiar or revelatory. For me it probably fell more in the former category. Marantz investigates the rise of the populist political internet in the United States and spends time with some of its major figures like Mike Cernovich, Cassandra Fairbanks, Gavin McInnes and an assortment of other people who will be immediately recognizable to most followers o ...more
Neil Griffin
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Right before the election, I was sharing a meal with one of the smarter people I know. He's a little younger and a bit more online than I am, so sometimes our conversations go to places that surprise me. After I said something with an implied assumption that he'd be voting for Clinton, he said, "No. I'm going 3rd party." I pressed him for reasons why he would, in my opinion, throw his vote away when the fight against a dangerous narcissist seemed more important than hand-wringing over Clinton's ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the book you want to read about the on-line underground.

It is superior in everyday to the rantish Troll Nation or the too personal, too disorganized Troll Hunting. Trolls are just part of the problem, and not all of the online meming entwined with the British and American elections in 2016 were trolls, nor were they all Russians.

Antisocial is exquisitely reported, written, and researched. And, based on his subsequent interview appearances, it was hard for Marantz to be so balanced. It was/>
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been reading a lot of these exposes recently as we all "normies" or the "un-redpilled" all of a sudden discover this community of the alt-right. This one is among the better of these books because Marantz is reasonable in describing these groups--they are not that big or powerful and certainly not the downfall of civilization. In fact, the more of these books I read, it seems like it's the same 5 dudes that are popping up. They must feel so thrilled with the amount of hand-wringing they've ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An interesting and fascinating book that about our times and helps to understand what's going on line.
Even if it's about USA the content can be applied to different countries and it's a clear depiction of what is changing the rules of the conversation online.
It's well written, well researched and engrossing.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
James Beggarly
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that digs deep into on line life of the fringe sites on the right and how they find a brief moment in the sun as their candidate makes it all the way to the White House. The book shows this group before and after the election, and in some cases how these people came to believe what they do, with years of reporting from this world and expanding on the many excellent articles he’s done for the New Yorker. You have to feel for the author as he spends years listening to all this hate ...more
A book that covers a broad swathe of shitty people all down the hard right radicalism slide. Alt-right, alt-light, straight up nazis, and various dipshits in between.

Marantz covers a lot of gross people without ever coming across like he's actually buddies with them (though some of them clearly think he is), and is upfront about the weird emotional place it can put him in. He's nicer and less judgemental than they deserve, but he never comes off like he's going easy on them. He empha
John Spiller
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although by no means definitive, "Antisocial" examines how a cadre of "alt-right" insurgents, white supremacists, and general shit-stirrers exploited the "anything goes" mindset of social media to disseminate claims and mindsets thought to have been banished from normal discourse. (Be sure you are familiar with the Overton Window; it is referenced throughout the book.) Unlike other books that tried to cover this area -- "Kill All Normies" and "Troll Nation," Marantz examines this explosive topic ...more
Ryan Lackey
Marantz had pretty good access to a lot of interesting (bad) people, but didn't make particularly good use of that access. He seems better when writing about people he likes, but even less objective then -- he basically fellated the Reddit team when they became censorious and seems to not understand the value of free speech given the asymmetric harm of censorship/chilling effects vs. random idiots saying things which are easily debunked, the Streisand effect, etc.

One really interesti
Oct 22, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No question the author personally struggled with this book, which combines several short loosely related pieces (some adapted from either previously published articles or as article preparations). The topic is a difficult one to present unemotionally and focuses only on the Alt-Right extremists, ignoring how other groups similarly misuse and manipulate social media systems. As the old saying goes, "Crimes are only committed by others." Although the book adds insights to the bigger problem, the b ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
The same success story : a small group, less than 1% of the society bewitching the 99%. It was the Jews. Or the Free Masons. It's the one percenters. Or the "online extremists".
Matt Schiavenza
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who is the alt-right? They're conservative extremists, sure, and most are outright racists and anti-Semites. They hate political correctness. They despise feminism. They think the general idea of America — that it is a multiracial social democracy — is a load of shit. And they now have a champion in the White House in Donald Trump.

The members of the alt-right profiled in Andrew Marantz's fascinating book anti-social are less driven by ideology than by a searing desire to reject conve
Bruce Katz
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rounded up a bit -- much of the material appeared on slightly different form in the New Yorker, and sometimes it shows. But I liked it a lot. Marantz is an insightful and open guide.

"Antisocial" is a combination of expedition (spending untold hours with alt.right and alt.light figures, anarchists, self-promoters, and individuals who are just plain lost), anthropology (what is the lay of this strange new land of social media), psychology (who are the key figures? what motivates them? what led th
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent analysis of the unforeseen dangers associated with social media. All that matters are "likes." Popular posts control the narrative. Truth or falsehood; beneficence or malevolence are secondary considerations. Not unlike genes, memes contain no values other than their own survival and propagation. Marantz conveys these truths using people from the "alt-right." It is pretty scary reading but provides one with a good understanding of the current state of play and the prevalent ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This may be the definitive book on our current online political climate. Marantz manages to strike a perfect balance with his subject matter, not ever overly moralizing or allowing the book to simply give the alt-right/alt-light people he interviews a bigger platform than they deserve. This also includes some of the best analysis of how Trump got elected without using tired, rehashed arguments (spoiler: Trump is basically a meme).
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this because the author has a keen understanding of how these online shitlords and bigots operate, but it feels like there's a footnote on every other paragraph. Many of them add nothing.
Matthew James
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Went in hoping this would be a serious discussion of the transmission of hateful, alt-right memes and the nexus between these ideas and the “tech-utopians” whose platforms are used to disseminate discord.

Instead, 100 pages in, it reads like “Dispatches from a Cocktail Party.”

Dada Vinci
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
this is an account of the 2016 election from a New Yorker reporter embedded with the Alt Right.
extremely informative
Oct 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Good, but very depressing about the state of our world and where we are going.
Oct 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 1a
Andrew Marantz appeared on Monday, October 14, 2019.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Great description of how we got here. Poor description of possible solutions -- depressing.
Peter Kalin
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A chilling view into the alt-right movement and the attempted destruction of America. Highly recommended, particularly if you still don't understand how social media is poisoning discourse.
Guy McArthur
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really amazing, eye-opening, and thought-provoking book. Andrew Marantz connected all the dots before most people had even recognized the dots—and he had personally interviewed most of them.
Miles Greene
rated it it was amazing
Nov 08, 2019
Zach Johnston
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Nov 03, 2019
Gavin Ward
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Oct 23, 2019
Jack Good
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Nov 09, 2019
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Nov 12, 2019
Joe Lynn
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Oct 31, 2019
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Oct 24, 2019
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Andrew Marantz writes narrative journalism about politics, the internet and the way we understand our world.

Andrew Marantz became a staff writer at the New Yorker in 2017. Prior to that, he worked on the magazine's editorial staff, splitting his time between writing stories (about such topics as hip-hop purism and the Truman Show delusion) and editing stories (about Las Vegas night clubs, Li