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Antisocial

Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation
Narrated by: Andrew Marantz
Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Trenchant and intelligent." (The New York Times)

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

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. The first is the world of social-media entrepreneurs, who, acting out of naïvete and reckless ambition, upended all traditional means of receiving and transmitting information. The second is the world of the people he calls "the gate crashers" - the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Antisocial ranges broadly - from the first mass-printed books to the trending hashtags of the present; from secret gatherings of neo-Fascists to the White House press briefing room - and traces how the unthinkable becomes thinkable, and then how it becomes reality. 

Combining the keen narrative detail of Bill Buford's Among the Thugs and the sweep of George Packer's The Unwinding, Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape - the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz shows how alienated young people are led down the rabbit hole of online radicalization, and how fringe ideas spread - from anonymous corners of social media to cable TV to the President's Twitter feed. Marantz also sits with the creators of social media as they start to reckon with the forces they've unleashed. Will they be able to solve the communication crisis they helped bring about, or are their interventions too little too late?

©2019 Andrew Marantz (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Antisocial is...Marantz’s searching attempt to understand people he describes as truly deplorable without letting his moral compass get wrecked.... [Antisocial] is trenchant and intelligent; wry but not glib; humane but never indulgent." (Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times)

"Imagine a world bereft of gates and uncrossable lines, with no discernable rules. That’s the Hadean landscape that has been painted expertly, in dark hues, by Andrew Marantz in his book Antisocial." (Kara Swisher, The New York Times Book Review)

"With force and elegance, New Yorker staff writer Marantz clearly documents social media’s empowerment of bigotry, propaganda, and right-wing extremism. Deeply reported." (The National Book Review)

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Amazing read!!!

this is probably one of the most well written books I've ever read. the subject matter is rather scary but Andrew does a wonderful job keeping things interesting. not only did I learn a lot, but this book kicked in quite a few doors for me. I've been oversimplifying much of these arguments. out of all the books I've read in the last two or three years this one changed my mind the most, and I'm extremely grateful to Andrew for making that happen. I've never written a review before. I felt obligated with this one

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Narration, Narrative, and Analysis

Vape-pens, one word answers while staring at a phone, periscope-aired demonstrations, listicles, click-bait, contrarian psuedo-intellectualism. This book describes a culture that exists right now and if anyone asks decades from now—how did Trump get elected? This will likely be the first book I grab to describe the times. Very vivid, strong narrative (well voiced too), but also complete with useful analysis. Occasionally Marantz is smug, I suppose, and some of the reviews seem perhaps a bit (personally) peeved at that. But time and time again he encounters nit wits who self identify as journalists but proclaim no respect for knowledge, fact-checking, you know—vetted process, just more views, follows, internet traffic. I think for him to not frame it this way would be disingenuous. I can’t speak for anyone else but I imagine that those around the age of 30 will likely know people who identify with the culture in this book, even if they are in your past and I think this book offers compassionate and clear insight as to how they may have got there. To the extent that this book scares you, I hope it also motivates you to understand the algorithmic bias of social media better, appreciate it’s power, and take action for greater transparency and regulation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ZZ
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 10-19-19

great performance

Fascinating material, well presented. And I was very impressed with the performance of the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Reminds me of being on Amazon’s Twitch Chat.

Probably less that 10 years ago, Troll Activity and name calling was full time on many low moderated gamer chat channels... Best learning advice... Experience first hand how nasty treatment of others in a low — to no — moderation - chat room. Receive practical experience, over and above listening to this audio book. Hearing this book was like a mild-version of reliving the game chat experience. Word abuse is very real on chat and other platforms that are open to the masses. I had to leave the on-line sickness. (Account was deleted). Even some of the game channel moderators were word-game players themselves. Found one moderator offensive without a discovered understandable reason why, (Offense words received were confronted / challenged by me). Some gamers and moderators call viewers lurkers... Imagine you can put-together the offensiveness on-line world picture. Thanks for your time! Happy listening!