Stories Are Weapons

Annalee Newitz


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WW Norton & Co
5 July 2024
ISBN: 9780393881516
272 pages

From the publisher

From the best-selling author of Four Lost Cities comes a sharp and timely book about the dark art of manipulation through weaponised storytelling

In Stories Are Weapons, best-selling author Annalee Newitz traces the way disinformation, propaganda and violent threats—the essential tool kit for psychological warfare—have evolved from military weapons deployed against foreign adversaries into tools in domestic culture wars. Newitz delves into America’s deep-rooted history with psychological operations, beginning with Benjamin Franklin’s Revolutionary War–era fake newspaper and reaching its apotheosis with misinformation during twenty-first-century elections. The nation’s secret weapon has long been coercive storytelling, fashioned by operatives who drew on their experiences in the ad industry and as science fiction writers. Now, through a weapons-transfer programme long unacknowledged, it has found its way into the hands of culture warriors, in conflicts from school board fights over LGBT students to campaigns against feminist viewpoints. Stories Are Weapons delivers a powerful counter-narrative, as Newitz highlights the process of psychological disarmament, speaking with Indigenous archivists preserving their histories in new ways, activist storytellers and technology experts transforming social media.