Sandy Hook: Book summary and reviews of Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson

Sandy Hook

An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth

by Elizabeth Williamson

Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson X
Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson
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Book Summary

Based on hundreds of hours of research, interviews, and access to exclusive sources and materials, Sandy Hook is Elizabeth Williamson's landmark investigation of the aftermath of a school shooting, the work of Sandy Hook parents who fought to defend themselves, and the truth of their children's fate against the frenzied distortions of online deniers and conspiracy theorists.

On December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Ten years later, Sandy Hook has become a foundational story of how false conspiracy narratives and malicious misinformation have gained traction in society.

One of the nation's most devastating mass shootings, Sandy Hook was used to create destructive and painful myths. Driven by ideology or profit, or for no sound reason at all, some people insisted it never occurred, or was staged by the federal government as a pretext for seizing Americans' firearms. They tormented the victims' relatives online, accosted them on the street and at memorial events, accusing them of faking their loved ones' murders. Some family members have been stalked and forced into hiding. A gun was fired into the home of one parent.

Present at the creation of this terrible crusade was Alex Jones's Infowars, a far-right outlet that aired noxious Sandy Hook theories to millions and raised money for the conspiracy theorists' quest to "prove" the shooting didn't happen. Enabled by Facebook, YouTube, and other social media companies' failure to curb harmful content, the conspiracists' questions grew into suspicion, suspicion grew into demands for more proof, and unanswered demands turned into rage. This pattern of denial and attack would come to characterize some Americans' response to almost every major event, from mass shootings to the coronavirus pandemic to the 2020 presidential election, in which President Trump's false claims of a rigged result prompted the January 6, 2021, assault on a bastion of democracy, the U.S. Capitol.

The Sandy Hook families, led by the father of the youngest victim, refused to accept this. Sandy Hook is the story of their battle to preserve their loved ones' legacies even in the face of threats to their own lives. Through exhaustive reporting, narrative storytelling, and intimate portraits, Sandy Hook is the definitive book on one of the most shocking cultural ruptures of the internet era.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"New York Times reporter Williamson's searing debut demonstrates that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol had its roots in the deeply troubling efforts to claim that the 2012 massacre of 26 first-graders and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a hoax...She has produced the definitive account of this dark chapter of American history." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A sobering, even depressing book that speaks to the American addiction to conspiracy theories and outright lies...the author makes it clear that the remedies to curb what Kellyanne Conway called 'alternative facts' exist. Essential reading that shows the straight line that runs from Sandy Hook to Charlottesville and Jan. 6." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This information about Sandy Hook was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Elizabeth Williamson

Elizabeth Williamson is a feature writer for the New York Times. She joined the Times as a member of its editorial board, writing about national politics during the 2016 presidential campaign. Previously, Williamson was a writer for the Wall Street Journal, covering national politics and the Obama White House, and a national reporter for the Washington Post. She began her career with a decade as a foreign correspondent, including covering Eastern Europe for the Wall Street Journal. She grew up in Chicago, and lives in Washington, D.C.

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