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The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy…

by Mike Rothschild

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
937261,495 (3.93)3
"I hope everyone reads this book. It has become such a crucial thing for all of us to understand." --Erin Burnett, CNN "An ideal tour guide for your journey into the depths of the rabbit hole that is QAnon. It even shows you a glimmer of light at the exit." --Cullen Hoback, director of HBO's Q: Into the Storm Its messaging can seem cryptic, even nonsensical, yet for tens of thousands of people, it explains everything:  What is QAnon, where did it come from, and is the Capitol insurgency a sign of where it's going next? On October 5th, 2017, President Trump made a cryptic remark in the State Dining Room at a gathering of military officials. He said it felt like "the calm before the storm"--then refused to elaborate as puzzled journalists asked him to explain.  But on the infamous message boards of 4chan, a mysterious poster going by "Q Clearance Patriot," who claimed to be in "military intelligence," began the elaboration on their own.   In the days that followed, Q's wild yarn explaining Trump's remarks began to rival the sinister intricacies of a Tom Clancy novel, while satisfying the deepest desires of MAGA-America.  But did any of what Q predicted come to pass? No. Did that stop people from clinging to every word they were reading, expanding its mythology, and promoting it wider and wider? No.   Why not? Who were these rapt listeners? How do they reconcile their worldview with the America they see around them? Why do their numbers keep growing? Mike Rothschild, a journalist specializing in conspiracy theories, has been collecting their stories for years, and through interviews with QAnon converts, apostates, and victims, as well as psychologists, sociologists, and academics, he is uniquely equipped to explain the movement and its followers.   In The Storm Is Upon Us, he takes readers from the background conspiracies and cults that fed the Q phenomenon, to its embrace by right-wing media and Donald Trump, through the rending of families as loved ones became addicted to Q's increasingly violent rhetoric, to the storming of the Capitol, and on.   And as the phenomenon shows no sign of calming despite Trump's loss of the presidency--with everyone from Baby Boomers to Millennial moms proving susceptible to its messaging--and politicians starting to openly espouse its ideology, Rothschild makes a compelling case that mocking the seeming madness of QAnon will get us nowhere. Rather, his impassioned reportage makes clear it's time to figure out what QAnon really is -- because QAnon and its relentlessly dark theory of everything isn't done yet.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Bailed out after 80 pages. The topic, QAnon, is awful, but I was hoping to read a good and perhaps interesting explanation. The book didn’t seem very good to me. So a book I don’t like very much about a putrid topic? Nope, life’s too sort.
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Free from the library.
Very interesting.
Learned alot about this phenomena.
Well written with a good flow to it. ( )
  Rockhead515 | Dec 22, 2022 |
An incredibly informative and readable primer on the QAnon conspiracy theory. The book is divided into three parts: Origins (from when Q started posting to 2019), Escalation (the boom of QAnon due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election), and Fallout (analysis of the group). Rothschild connects QAnon to several other conspiracy theories and really brings out the human aspects of this movement both the believers and those affected by them. ( )
  Bodagirl | May 8, 2022 |
This book provides readers with a good primer of background knowledge about the QAnon movement/cult/conspiracy theory - however you want to define it.

Rothschild doesn't just treat QAnon as a distant object of analysis like other authors (especially academics) might, nor is it treated as an object of ridicule. This, I think contributes, to the book's strengths. As clearly as he can, he breaks down what QAnon is and how it came about. Importantly, he draws out the human aspects of QAnon, both in the people involved and the people whom it impacts.

It's quite a readable book, though I think you need at least some prior broad knowledge about what QAnon is to get a good handle on the book - or at least, the political environment in the United States immediately prior to, during, and immediately after the Trump administration.

At times, the structure does feel quite disjointed (eg. here's a crime that a QAnon follower committed, and then here's another, and another) which breaks up the flow of the reading, but it wasn't a big deal for me.

What was more concerning to me was the quality of some of the arguments Rothschild touches, like an implication that the French Yellow Vest Movement (gilets jaunes) is associated with QAnon and a comparison between QAnon, al-Qaeda, and radicalization.

To be fair, these claims are brief and maybe tangential to the content of the book itself. And, maybe I'm just not as well-versed on either topic as I'd like to believe. Still, since they were included, I wish Rothschild elaborated on some of these claims more to back them up because both were a bit tough to believe. With the gilets jaunes for example, while some individuals may be inspired by Q, to say that the entire movement directly took inspiration from Q is a stretch. And I'm still not sure how QAnon and al-Qaeda can be directly compared to one another given their numerous basic differences.

Still, if you're interested in reading about politics (specifically American politics) from a popular non-fiction angle, this is an excellent choice.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
( )
  mintlovesbooks | Feb 24, 2022 |
Comprehensive and informative. And contains actual primary source material, unlike some books on this topic. ( )
  fionaanne | Nov 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
"I still vividly remember the first time he asked me to watch one of the QAnon videos. He mocked it and laughed at the idea that anyone would fall for it. Then, over the next couple of months, something changed." — Anonymous, via email
Dedication
First words
[Introduction] On January 6, 2021, an armed mob of Donald Trump supporters accomplished what no Confederate soldier, Nazi storm trooper, or Al Qaeda jihadist had ever managed to do: they sacked the United States Capitol Building.
[Chapter 1] Before we can address what QAnon means in today's political and social landscape, we have to start with the basics of what Q is.
Quotations
Everywhere you looked during the frenzy of January 6, you could find symbols of QAnon iconography: a man in a Q T-shirt was one of the first rioters to bust through Capitol defenses and brawl with an officer. Images of the "Q Shaman," clad in furs, face paint, and a horned helmet, were reproduced everywhere in the flood of media that covered the events. There were Q flags flying and signs with Q slogans on them. Insurrectionists screamed the text of one of QAnon's cryptic 8chan "drops" as they destroyed the camera equipment of one news outlet, and several of the day's mortalities were avowed QAnon believers with social media feeds that expressed full-throated belief in QAnon and a willingness to die for Trump—right until the moment they did.
What has grown to be called "QAnon" is a complex web of mythology, conspiracy theories, personal interpretations, and assumptions featuring a vast range of characters, events, symbols, shibboleths, and jargon. It can be understood as a conspiracy theory, for sure, but it also touches on aspects of cultic movements, new religions, Internet scams, and political doctrine. It's impossible to fully explicate every aspect of QAnon because it is so diffuse and has so many different plot strands and meanings. But the most important thing to know is that all of it started with an anonymous poster on 4chan.
If you don't understand anything else about Q, you should at least understand this one dimension. It's not just a conspiracy theory or game to these people. It's a ringside ticket to the final match between good and evil—and when the hammer finally falls, the supporters of evil will need to be put down with brutal swiftness. This mix of biblical retribution and participatory justice has drawn in fans around the world.
Q lets people feel like they're part of something bigger than their small lives. It gives believers a higher and noble purpose. It offers explanations for terrible things. After all, it's easier to believe that a dark cabal is orchestrating negative events than it is to believe that powerful people, including our leaders, are simply greedy or incompetent.
The elemental parts of Q didn't start with meme culture or chan boards or Trump or social media. They didn't start with the Internet, the CIA, the Russians, or the Illuminati. They're baked into the way humans demand explanations for things that seem to defy reason. And they start with the one group that humanity has always managed to pin the blame on: Jews.
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"I hope everyone reads this book. It has become such a crucial thing for all of us to understand." --Erin Burnett, CNN "An ideal tour guide for your journey into the depths of the rabbit hole that is QAnon. It even shows you a glimmer of light at the exit." --Cullen Hoback, director of HBO's Q: Into the Storm Its messaging can seem cryptic, even nonsensical, yet for tens of thousands of people, it explains everything:  What is QAnon, where did it come from, and is the Capitol insurgency a sign of where it's going next? On October 5th, 2017, President Trump made a cryptic remark in the State Dining Room at a gathering of military officials. He said it felt like "the calm before the storm"--then refused to elaborate as puzzled journalists asked him to explain.  But on the infamous message boards of 4chan, a mysterious poster going by "Q Clearance Patriot," who claimed to be in "military intelligence," began the elaboration on their own.   In the days that followed, Q's wild yarn explaining Trump's remarks began to rival the sinister intricacies of a Tom Clancy novel, while satisfying the deepest desires of MAGA-America.  But did any of what Q predicted come to pass? No. Did that stop people from clinging to every word they were reading, expanding its mythology, and promoting it wider and wider? No.   Why not? Who were these rapt listeners? How do they reconcile their worldview with the America they see around them? Why do their numbers keep growing? Mike Rothschild, a journalist specializing in conspiracy theories, has been collecting their stories for years, and through interviews with QAnon converts, apostates, and victims, as well as psychologists, sociologists, and academics, he is uniquely equipped to explain the movement and its followers.   In The Storm Is Upon Us, he takes readers from the background conspiracies and cults that fed the Q phenomenon, to its embrace by right-wing media and Donald Trump, through the rending of families as loved ones became addicted to Q's increasingly violent rhetoric, to the storming of the Capitol, and on.   And as the phenomenon shows no sign of calming despite Trump's loss of the presidency--with everyone from Baby Boomers to Millennial moms proving susceptible to its messaging--and politicians starting to openly espouse its ideology, Rothschild makes a compelling case that mocking the seeming madness of QAnon will get us nowhere. Rather, his impassioned reportage makes clear it's time to figure out what QAnon really is -- because QAnon and its relentlessly dark theory of everything isn't done yet.

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