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Publisher's Summary

This is a story about how the extreme became mainstream. It reveals how the truth became ‘fake news’, how fringe ideas spread and how a candidate many dismissed as a joke was propelled to the presidency by the dark side of the internet. For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded with alt-right propagandists, who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. He also spent time with the social-media entrepreneurs who made this possible, through their naive and reckless ambition, by disrupting all of the traditional information systems. 

Join Marantz as some of the biggest brains in Silicon Valley teach him how to make content go viral; as he hangs out with the conspiracists, white supremacists and nihilist trolls using these ideas to make their memes, blogs and podcasts incredibly successful; and as he meets some of the people led down the rabbit hole of online radicalisation.

Antisocial is about how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then becomes reality. By telling the story of the people who hijacked the American conversation, Antisocial will help you understand the world they have created, in which we all now live.

©2019 Andrew Marantz (P)2019 Penguin Random House

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    4 out of 5 stars

Only complaint is he adopts voices for quotes

The author tries to mimic someone's voice when quoting them which becomes very grating.

Besides that, it's very interesting and well crafted.

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Excellent — required to understand the contemporary world

Like a NYer article, but longer. The book gives an account of how the techno-utopians’ optimism blinded them to their platforms’ potential to wreck havoc on our civic fabric. You can’t understand this decade without this book. Here it is, in careful detail.

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A very important, illuminating book

Anyone who uses the internet should read this book.

Fascinating, frightening and incisive.

Highly recommended

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Everyone should read this book

Antisocial is a deeply concerning indictment of our 'new world'.

This isn't one of those hastily researched books about Trump and Trump does not feature much at all. But his most ardent fans certainly do. Marantz was researching the alt-right before 2016 and has rare insights into their attitudes from that time.
The book tells the stories of quite a few of these 'characters'. The fact that he could spend so much time with them and come out seemingly unscathed (at least in a literary sense) is of real credit to him and his art.
It's a well researched and astutely written description of a deeply troubled time that should be read as widely as possible.

If an author can get away with reading their own book (and most can't and usually don't) then it adds another dimension as nobody knows the content better. Marantz does and excellent job.

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  • William Munny
  • 11-05-2020

Gripping stuff

This book should be compulsory listening for anyone wanting to understand the mess we find ourselves in. Well read by the author himself. Highly engaging and fascinating all round.

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  • Savale
  • 17-08-2020

Too long, too descriptive, too lacking in analysis

I was very disappointed. The book is basically a series of very long-winded descriptions of alt-right and crypto fascist figures, and very detail-obsessed accounts of what Marantz witnesses traipsing around after them.

It's as if knowing what they ate for lunch, knowing what shoes they are wearing, and having every off the cuffish twattish utterance related verbatim is somehow going to build up to an incisive understanding of these people. It doesn't. It just gets boring.

He narrates in a sneering tone. Don't get me wrong, I dislike the people he writes about as much as him. But it gets very tedious. The people he follows are very tedious. Successful, sadly. Dangerous, certainly. But oh so tedious!

This book could easily have been half the length. And a decent editor could have persuaded the author to avoid ridiculous words like 'facticity'.

If observational documentary in book form is your thing and you have the patience for it, fine. But I am hungry for intelligent analysis.

If you want a book that really gives you an understanding of how and why post-fact, neo-fascist politics is on the rise, with intelligent analysis, then read Peter Pomerantsev's book 'This is not propaganda: adventures in the war against reality'.

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  • ICB
  • 09-07-2020

Very insightful

This is a great book. The author spent time with people on the right, at the limits and beyond of acceptable opinion, to find out what they believe and why. He helped humanise them and to see them as people and to show how some are scared, some worry and lost, others just plain vile, filled with anger and hate towards people who have probably never affected their lives (Jews come in for a lot of the hate) negatively but who are the focus of that hate. The use of social media is clearly how these groups form and communicate, spread lies and anxieties and conspiracy theories as truth.

I didn't always agree with the author's opinions but I admire the face he was clear about what he believes and that he was courageous enough to openly engage with white nationalists, white supremacists, nazis, and various others, often anti-semitic and racist, and pro-Trump.

To me this is one of a growing number of books which shows how much of the world and particularly America have become highly polarised and how social media is a large part of the problem. Depsite the subject matter I couldn't get enough of this book and listened to at every opportunity. It is very well read too.

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