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If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future by [Jill Lepore]
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If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 88 ratings

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Length: 507 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


"Lepore is a brilliant and prolific historian with an eye for unusual and revealing stories, and this one is a remarkable saga, sometimes comical, sometimes ominous: a “shadow history of the 1960s,” as she writes.... Lepore finds in it a plausible untold origin story for our current panopticon: a world of constant surveillance, if not by the state then by megacorporations that make vast fortunes by predicting and manipulating our behavior―including, most insidiously, our behavior as voters.... It didn’t have to be this way. That is Lepore’s final message: history is not inevitable."
- James Gleick, New York Review of Books

"Fascinating.... Over the last decade, Lepore, a Harvard history professor and New Yorker staff writer, has repeatedly shown herself to be an uncommonly astute and insightful interpreter of American history, and one of her many strengths is the moral clarity that infuses her writing.... [with] a nimble fluency that can be exhilarating."
- Seth Mnookin, New York Times Book Review

"Timely.... Lepore weaves her narrative across continents and through time with engaging, conversational prose. Her characters' personalities, families, affairs, fights and constant gossiping come alive, thanks to extensive troves of family papers and interviews with those closest to them."
- Shannon Bond, NPR

"[A] rich account. . . . Lepore’s exceptional skill as storyteller and her sharp eye for seemingly quotidian details and small coincidences lend the Simulmatics world an intimate―and at times deliciously gossipy―feeling. . . . As Lepore notes, after the 1960 Kennedy election, the idea that politicians might use advertising, psychological tricks, or even new technology in order to sway elections in their favor was still shocking to the public. But 60 years later, it’s such an accepted part of American political life that it takes a historian to excavate the moment in time where such notions began to cohere."
- J.C. Pan, The New Republic

"A beautifully written and intellectually rigorous account of the origins of the science of predictive analytics and behavioral data science in the cold war era."
- Financial Times

"In If Then, Lepore skillfully argues that their use of technology brought us to this current political climate."
- Lauren LeBlanc, The Observer

"[Lepore] pulls no punches in criticizing the folly of trying to understand human behavior via algorithm, and the corrosive consequences of trying to hack democracy. The result is . . . a perceptive work of historically informed dissent."
- Brendan Driscoll, Booklist [starred review]

"A staff writer for the New Yorker and Harvard professor, Lepore knows how to spin out a winning historical study. Here, she dives deep into matters that have seldom attracted scholarly attention. . . As Lepore convincingly demonstrates, the work of Simulmatics paved the way for later manipulators of psychology and public opinion such as Facebook. . . . A fascinating, expertly guided exploration of a little-known corner of the recent past."
- Kirkus Reviews

"A person can’t help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing."
- George Saunders

"Jill Lepore reveals how this forgotten company invented the data-weapons of the future. If Then is simultaneously gripping and absolutely terrifying."
- Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, her many books include the international bestseller These Truths and This America. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Publication date : September 15, 2020
  • File size : 3196 KB
  • Print length : 507 pages
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Language: : English
  • ASIN : B085T8DHXD
  • Publisher : Liveright; Illustrated edition (September 15, 2020)
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 88 ratings

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
88 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2020
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