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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,692 ratings  ·  271 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
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Viking
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Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you're somehow unfamiliar with the alt-right and their extreme messages, you'll find this book a good place to start learning about them. I initially found this book interesting, as the author got to know and interviewed several of these people, showing how they helped elect the worst president the USA has ever known, and how they have never cared about his policies (indeed, many of them are for universal health care and free continuing education), only that he is as racist, xenophobic, and h ...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
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
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Probably people who thought Hillary's What Happened? was a good read
We are presented with a torturously detailed narration centered around the usual suspects, Deplorable Twitter personalities, and written by (who better than) someone who truly detests them, and is not too shy to say it. In some instances, he straight out assumes someone's internal feelings and thoughts. Conjectures abound. To make it worse, it also feels like this was written by and for someone who cannot or does not care to distinguish sinister from intentional trolling or shallow and egotistic ...more
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
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
24th book of 2020.

This is the story of jewish Brooklyn New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz's three years hanging out with various online influencers of the Alt-Right. While the book was excellent at fleshing out various biographies, but fails to go much deeper. While the Charlottesville rally and killing of Heather Heyer rightly gets a fair amount of coverage, little or nothing is discussed about other events occurring contemporaneously, such as the caging of children on the Southern border.

When I first read Marantz' "The Virologist" four years ago I was immediately hooked. He became one of the New Yorker writers I was most interested in, along with Hua Hsu, Jia Tolentino, and Emily Nussbaum. They were all fluent in the contradictions and strangeness of the modern world and wrote with a joyous realism about how you could get pleasure from the products of late capitalism while deeply questioning it.

I'm listening to Burial's "Tunes 2011-2019" right now on Hsu's recommendation and it
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Is the internet a superhighway of information or just another mono-rail, the track about to bend? After reading Andrew Marantz's Antisocial, I think it will become what we act to make it become.

Who runs the media? I don't mean that in a creepy conspiracy theory way. I mean what corporations own the news, magazines, and websites? For example, Conde Nast Publications owns GQ, The New Yorker, Vogue, and Wired. These media companies also buy websites when they can. The company that owns Gawker also
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
Great book but very frightening. With more information doesn't necessarily come more informed people.
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
Possibly in Michigan, London
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Feeling a bit nauseous - can’t even imagine the mental scrubbing Marantz must have done after writing this :/
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 conventional norm
Leo Walsh
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
ANTISOCIAL by New Yorker reporter Andrew Marantz is an interesting near-historical analysis at how a bunch of racist and xenophobic right-wing liars and half-wits banded together to hijack the conversation in America. Using American innovations in social media, these racists, who dubbed themselves "the alt-right" coordinated their lies and trolling campaigns out of the public eye on sites like Reddit, Periscope, and 8-chan. Once coordinated, this army of unemployed, right-wing libertarian anarch ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 interesting thing fro
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 wa
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read this to complete a loose trilogy on social media, fake news, and the Rancid Right. (The others were Michiko Kakutani’s The Death of Truth and Peter Pomerantsev’s This Is Not Propaganda.) This is touted as a work of immersion journalism but really doesn’t feel like it. That was perhaps the biggest disappointment.

Others have diagnosed the same problems as the author - how rapidly fake news is spread and knowingly, how people are marooned from reality by algorithms, the constant parade of e
Jason Sullivan
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
The themes of Antisocial are probably familiar to anyone who's spent more than 20 minutes on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit in the past 5 years, but the interviews and other details that come from Marantz having been embedded with the techbros and "deplorables" are still fascinating. The failure to connect the toxicity of the alt-right to extremists of other ideologies, who have adopted a lot of the same tactics and vocabulary, seems like a missed opportunity though. And it was super awkward to le ...more
Sarah Nelson
Oct 25, 2020 rated it liked it
3 stars due to the fact that I thought this would be a book about social media & the like & yet 40% of it was the author’s personal political leanings (“the candidate I don’t like has done all of these things wrong. The candidate I voted for does this stuff right” without ever mentioning allllll the things that one has done wrong).
Other than that, very informative read. I just watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix & that is also an eye-opener!
Sadly, Marantz is spot-on in the sense of “news”
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: off-the-cuff
I doubt I would have found this book were it not for the online library. Certainly an arresting subject matter though I am most amazed at the author’s ability to maintain his sanity while being embedded with the alt-right. I like that he doesn’t try and sugarcoat their rhetoric, nor is he forgiving of them. He provides a rounded outlook on all the people featured in the book.

It amazes me that anyone would think this way and that in today’s world you can get away with and get popular by thinking
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
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.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really important for anyone who spends time thinking about the future of media, the internet, and politics. Or for like anyone.

Marantz is pretty funny which was great because the content of this book was mostly BLEAK.
Well, I'm depressed now. Marantz's book looks into the alt-right & alt-lite movement, interviewing many actors we've seen bubble up on social media (Mike Cernovich, Gavin McIness, Laura Loomer, etc.). Marantz focuses less on the neo-Nazis and more on the contrarians/free-speech absolutists with views many would still consider discreditable. I think parts of this book are bloated or repetitive - I really did not need to know that much about the personal lives of these people. But I really did lea ...more
Tyler Smith
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've had a Google alert set for "Andrew Marantz" since 2017 or '18, when I first encountered his incisive, excellent writing for The New Yorker. If you've read his reporting on the alt-right for that magazine, you're probably familiar with about half of the stories and characters you'll meet in this book. The book adds a larger narrative arc. The sketches that structure much of the book are no longer merely the profiles of men and women who brewed, catalysed, and distributed internet poison, or ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
In his Prologue, Andrew Marantz quotes President John F. Kennedy who wrote, "There have always been those on the fringes of our society who have sought to escape their own responsibility by finding a simple solution, an appealing slogan, or a convenient scapegoat, . . . . But in time the basic good sense and stability of the great American consensus has always prevailed." In our current, media-saturated society Anti-Social calls JFK's conclusion into question. It is an equally fascinating and s ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an indispensable ‘down the rabbit hole’ account, but it was frustrating that a book which shrewdly deploys philosopher Richard Rorty is just too smart by half. Authors Vegas Tenold and Andrew Marantz embedded themselves with the far-right. Tenold’s book is a journey among thugs; Marantz’s is a journey consuming toxic internet content and its charming supervillains. The result are strikingly different portraits of the far-right, both books humanizing these lacerated souls. Marantz’s subj ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A very worthwhile read (or listen, in this case). Marantz covers a couple of years' of his work interviewing and researching some pretty terrible movements in the US, as well as their leaders. He covers the alt right, alt light, and new right; social media platforms and techno-utopianism (seriously, libertarians will be the death of us all); Trump's campaign; and, of course, the rise of white nationalism under its various guises.

One thing I was missing was a sense of through-line, a structure ty
Ryan Mishap
Sigh. This is an essential book for to understand our current reality, but, damn, I got sick of reading about these fucking right-wing trolls by the end.

Amidst the descriptions of the depraved individuals and the garbage they spew, there is a larger narrative about rights and responsibilities and the bullshit libertarian techno-dream of Silicon Valley.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is chilling and revelatory and unblinking and even maybe a little optimistic by the end. I can’t say everyone would enjoy reading this but it’s well worth it if you are at all interested in internet culture and able to stomach reading some pretty horrific things.
Peter Colclasure
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a tour of the alt-right (or alt-light, or new right?—the terminology is amorphous and evolving). You'll meet Mike Cernovich, Milo Yiannopoulos, Lauren Southern, Gavin McInnes, Mike Enoch, and Richard Spencer. Many prominent figures of the alt-right insist they are not alt-right. Some insist they are alt-right but other alt-right luminaries reject them. Some are misogynistic more than racist. Some are antisemitic but not particularly misogynistic. Some are all of the above. You'll me ...more
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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, Liberian

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