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

Viking. Oct. 2019. 400p. notes. ISBN 9780525522263. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525522270. POL SCI
New Yorker staff writer Marantz relates his experiences reporting on members of the alt-right. Although the media often portrays the alt-right as a monolithic group, Marantz argues that while these individuals have reasons for their views, their mission is to shift cultural norms to the right. He profiles prominent white supremacists, men’s rights activists, and content creators, and shows how their messaging is increasingly normalized under the Trump administration. A powerful passage showcases the journey of one young woman as she became involved with and eventually left various white supremacist groups. Additionally, Marantz muses on the changing nature of journalism and the challenges of countering hateful statements in traditional media. A smaller portion of the book explores the rise of social media and how companies’ hands-off approach to regulation enabled the alt-right movement to spread. Marantz takes pains to counter the hateful speech of his subjects but never makes a compelling argument for featuring them in a full-length work.
VERDICT A promising but disjointed look into the rise of hate groups, recommended for readers interested in politics, social media, and the intersection of the two.

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