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Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous Paperback – October 6, 2015
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"Winner of the 2015 American Anthropological Association's Diana Forsythe Prize awarded by the Society for the Anthropology of Work (SAW) and from the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing."
Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014
“Easily the best book on Anonymous.”
“The US government and its allies have spent years castigating, prosecuting, and jailing members of Anonymous, with the director of the NSA going so far as to warn ominously of the potential of an Anonymous-led power blackout. But Gabriella Coleman’s fascinating history of Anonymous makes clear that almost all of the hacktivism attributed to this global collective has been devoted to exposing wrongdoing, not wreaking destruction, even as she also carefully shows that Anonymous is not a shadowy organization but a loosely knit collection of activists all over the globe, fighting for government and corporate transparency. The NSA’s treatment of Anonymous is disturbing and extreme, and Anonymous’s surprising activist turn is heartening. Essential reading.”
—Glenn Greenwald, author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State
“An engrossing, accessible, and intelligent study illuminating the ambiguities of Anonymous and its implications for the future of online political activism.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“Coleman charts her own conceptual course, breaking with the standard narratives, particularly the click-baity cautionary tales about the dangers of Anonymous. Her book offers its share of warnings, but ones more nuanced, compelling, and empathetic than the typical hand-wringing about online mobs and the conundrum of virtual vigilante justice. Coleman is no cheerleader...But she also doesn’t wag her finger from some imagined high ground.”
—Astra Taylor, Bookforum
“This is the ultimate piece on Anonymous. It’s a notoriously difficult subject to write about, but Gabriella Coleman has succeeded where others have failed, and the result is a masterpiece that is informative, interesting, and funny. A fine example of what an investigative book should be.”
—Mustafa Al-Bassam, alias “tflow,” former member of LulzSec
“In Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, Coleman reveals the group in all its complexity ... this in-depth account might leave readers in awe of the sheer scope of the group and how much they have achieved while shunning the traditional trappings of leaders, hierarchy and individual fame-seeking.”
“Anyone hoping to understand this mostly hidden world will find [Coleman's] book crucial and even prescient.”
“Meticulously researched, eminently readable.”
“Coleman takes us on a thrilling journey into the uncharted landscape of hackers, trolls, and Anonymous activists who live among us. It’s both a perfect initiation for all those n00bs out there still wondering what a ‘n00b’ is, as well as an important discourse on the role of anarchy online. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy shares in the rebellious, even mordant humor of the groups it profiles, but never loses its critical perspective. A hilarious, important piece of hidden history that is very hard to put down.”
—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
“With a perceptive eye and a principled disposition, Coleman dives into the eclectic world of Anonymous to reveal the humor and political significance of this polarizing network. Following her journey through this maze and reveling in her analysis is both insightful and awe-inspiring. This book will shake up assumptions at the core of academia, industry, law enforcement, and the media. It’s a must read!”
—danah boyd, author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
“Exhaustively researched and devilishly readable, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy tells the story of Anonymous’s rise from 4chan to taking on governments. If there could be a definitive writer on a movement like Anonymous, Coleman would be it.”
—Molly Crabapple, artist and author of the forthcoming Drawing Blood
“[An] eye-opening ethnography ... This all-access pass into the dark and wild corners of the Internet is timely, informative, and also frightening.”
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
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Today, a federal judge sentenced journalist Barrett Brown to 5 years and a fine of $890K JUST FOR LINKING to Anonymous-hacked material from Stratfor Global Intelligence; he didn't actually hack anyone! Jeremy Hammond (sup_g), who did the actual hack, was sentenced to the maximum allowed under his plea agreement and is currently serving a ten-year sentence at a medium-security federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky.
Coleman weaves all of this together like a tightly packed thriller, keeping the reader on the edge of his seat. The book's only flaw -- and it's a very minor one -- is that she tends to be somewhat enamored of her subject, and one wonders just how objective she's being in covering some of the movement's activities. But, as an Anonymous fan myself, this is a quibble. At least she has some passion for her subject compared to many of the rather anemic works out there.
Coleman really captures the love of lulz, the fun of the movement that drives so many hackers. She really, really gets it.
If you have any interest in this movement and in the dozens and dozens of sub-movements it has spawned, READ THIS BOOK. As a writer of techno-thrillers like 404 and the forthcoming dEATH in dAVOS, which cover Anonymous extensively, I am forever in Coleman's debt for her insights and her bravery. Let's hope she doesn't meet the fate of Barrett Brown and so many other journalists who have taken it upon themselves to understand Anonymous and the hacker mind.
Top international reviews
For those completely uninitiated to the subject matter, it may be worthwhile to read another, more "journalistic" book first, then come to this one for the real "meat".
If Anonymous really wants my full appreciation, they could start by DDOS-ing the ISPs that allow scumbag spammers to spew their trash. But I guess that's not "sexy" enough.
Seriously, that book is incredibly useful for someone who wants to really understand what is anonymous, beyond what corporate medias try to tell you.
A must for erverybody who likes to know what's really hiding under their bed