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We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A lively, startling book that reads as 'The Social Network' for group hackers. As in that Facebook film the technological innovations created by a few people snowball wildly beyond expectation, until they have mass effect. But the human element - the mix of glee, malevolence, randomness, megalomania and just plain mischief that helped spawn these changes - is what Ms. Olson explores best...We Are Anonymous also captures the broad spectrum of reasons that Anonymous and LulzSec attracted followers."―Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Olson keeps We Are Anonymous moving quickly, as she jumps around in chronology, using dramatic cliffhangers to tie the different strands of the narrative together while commanding attention... An eminently human tale."-―Rowan Kaiser, AV Club

"An incredible story."―Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

"A remarkable inside account of the hacker movement."―New York Magazine

"A masterpiece of shoe-leather journalism, a fast-paced, richly detailed account of the group's beginnings, various schisms and most spectacular attacks"―The Daily

"Olson traces the origins of Anonymous, unmasking it leading characters to reveal their personal lives and motivations."―Booklist

"Spellbinding account of mischief and mayhem....With all the makings of a fast-paced espionage thriller, Olson...meticulously and impartially recreates the operations of Anonymous and LulzSec."―Publishers Weekly

"A detailed account of the hacker collective Anonymous and its splinter group, LulzSec....Certain to thrill 4chan readers, hackers and others on the Internet's fringe."―Kirkus Reviews

"We Are Anonymous is a highly recommended entry point to begin to understand what that hidden culture is, where it comes from, and how it's influencing the mainstream. Olson doesn't just give the reader a recap of events since 2008 (the first en masse attack by Anonymous), her sympathetic account shows why people find Anonymous attractive, and why, despite its rough edges, much of what it does and stands for is something that should be promoted." -- PopMatters

About the Author

Parmy Olson is the London Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316213543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316213547
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
** FYI: When considering this book, read the reviews people write about the book instead of just looking at the number of stars. As described in the book, one of the favorite tactics of internet pranksters is to "raid" a site/forum/review -- essentially overwhelm it with negative ratings/info in large numbers just for kicks. **

I just finished reading Parmy Olson's We Are Anonymous and wanted to provide a review with my thoughts about the book. As someone who followed the events with Anonymous and Lulzsec as they unfolded in the news, tech journals, and twitter, I found myself eagerly awaiting the release of this book. I was very hopeful that it would provide additional "behind-the-scenes" information about the events and the people involved.

The subject of Anonymous is a rather amorphous one, and fairly difficult to quantify for those not familiar with its background. I feel like the author does an excellent job of taking potentially confusing subject matter and presenting a clear narrative in a style that makes for an entertaining read. She begins in the middle -- starting the book by discussing a hack that was so audacious in scope and impact that the reader is immediately hooked. This outlandish event is even more stunning because it is not fiction -- it actually happened in Feb. 2011.

The author then goes on to discuss the roots of Anonymous -- how it spontaneously emerged / evolved from a place that most of the internet's travelers would never know existed. How it grew almost organically -- changing and morphing. Its character changed rapidly over time, and continues to do so. She has done a good job of presenting these concepts that many would find difficult to grasp in a manner that someone who has never heard of Anonymous could understand.
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Format: Hardcover
Olson appeared on The Daily Show on June 18, 2012. Hours later, her 4-5 star review average sank to just 3 stars after a barrage of poor reviews from people who couldn't possibly have actually read the book during that time. So I would ignore the less substantial reviews shown here, especially those posted by people with user names like "anonymous" (hello?!). The book might be light on technology in some areas or contain a technical glitch or two here and there but for regular people who are interested in a well-written story about the Anonymous group, I think it's a great place to start. She did actually do her own research and interviewed members face-to-face, so it's worth a read if you are interested in learning a bit more about the topic in a docu-drama type blend of non-fiction.
10 Comments 145 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This was a great book.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in internet culture reads this. I understand that /b/ gets upset every time someone not steeped in their world investigates it; the nature of the subaltern is to remain that way. But anon has done some amazing things, some questionable things, and some hilarious things using the anon tag - enough to warrant this investigation.

The world of anon is hard to pin down and good information can be hard to come by. What you normally get is stupid newscasts with exploding vans and warnings about weird internet hat machines. This goes deep into the history, world, and actions of those using the anon label and related groups. Ms. Olsen keys into the world of anon as an outsider; she anthropologically and intelligently comments and reports what she's found. The history is accurately documented; maybe the book misses some minutia about the history of how things went. Anyone who wasn't there or watching the whole time is going to miss some nuance, and this book does miss some little facts and raids and posts, but who cares? She delves far deeper than any other journalist who has looked into anon and produced a wonderful book in the process.

If you want to see some of the interesting culture on the internet; are curious about the history of anon or their actions; if you want to look at the possible importance and relevance of hackers in today's highly digital world; if you new to the idea of anon - you need to read this book. It's in the rules new folks, you need to lurk more; read through this book and stop being an auto-hater. I'd say buy it, but dl it first if you are a skeptic, you'll find it is really the only publication out there that does any justice to the complexity and importance of anon.
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Format: Hardcover
"We Are Anonymous", by Forbes' London bureau chief Parmy Olson, is an exploration of the activist, or pseudo-activist, culture that emerged from the 4chan image board since 2008, when normally apolitical anonymous posters organized themselves for the first time in a series of protests against the Church of Scientology. This book's subtitle, "Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency", is more telling of its content than the title. This is not a history or sociological study of Anonymous. Origins of Anonymous are included only as background. Olson picks up the story at the point when some denizens of the chan boards fashioned themselves into political activists, culminating in December 2010's Operation Payback against companies that cut off WikiLeaks' funding, and subsequently generating splinter groups, among them the radicalized troublemakers of LulzSec.

Olson provides new and interesting detail of the internal workings of LulzSec, to which she dedicates 7 chapters, or about 100 pages, though she gathers as much information as she can about any political action taken by Anonymous or its derivatives. Outside of LulzSec, that was mostly DDoS attacks with alleged anti-censorship motives. Olson had impressive access. Gregg Housh, who organized the Scientology prank-cum-protest, lends insight into what many have claimed was a pivotal event in the evolution of Anonymous. A 4chan prankster whom the author calls "William" lets us in on the tensions between aspiring activists and the prevailing Anonymous ethos to target anyone and anything for the laughs. William prefers pranking, harassing, and extortion to political activism. Notably, Olson got a great deal of material from Jake Davis, AKA "Topiary".
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