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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 20 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’ 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 US 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. 

©2022 Dutton (P)2022 Penguin Audio

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Not about Sandy Hook

I liked this book, but the title is misleading. I was expecting a full book on the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook, but this is a book about Alex Jones. Maybe the author wouldn't give him the honor of naming him in the title (which I would perfectly understand). But still it is a bit misleading... Alex Jones and his cronies mislead the general public about wat happened at Sandy Hook,,that is terribke and the topic is well researched bu the author. I just wished I would have been cleare stated before, since I pre-ordered this book. I still would have bought it and would still give high marks, but.. just be honist abd tell me what I am buying..

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Essential Reading

This is a very important book.
Very moving throughout but never mawkish. Great research and great writing.
There are vital lessons here for us all.

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Heartbreaking but absolutely vital

Read very well by Rebecca Lowman, this book is a deeply researched investigation into the shooting, and the grifters who hounded the families afterwards.

Not a comfortable read by any means, (indeed I wept multiple times while listening) but a very necessary one, to at least partially explain how the American collective psyche has reached the point where Jan 6th could happen.

A great skewering of Alex Jones and his ilk also. Brava Ms Williamson, brava.

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Extensively researched

This is a very long book and the author has done masses of research. It comes to life when talking about the bereaved parents and their story is obviously heartbreaking. A difficult listen in that hundreds of other people are referenced and it can be a little hard to keep up.

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  • S. Cunningham
  • 11-04-22

Excellent!

Very compelling. The author uses the tragedy at Sandy Hook to trace the growing reach of conspiracy theorists and efforts to combat them. While she focuses on the damage sustained by the Sandy Hook families and their efforts to fight back against online conspiracies, later shootings and the Jan, 6th insurrection are also discussed as the conspiracies and disinformation are the same, and often spread by the same people. For those interested in recent conspiracy spread, this book is a good addition. I’m particularly interested to think about it in conjunction with Will Sommer’s upcoming Q-Anon book.

Additionally, I enjoyed the reader. She did a great job letting you fall into the book.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-04-22

Shocking!

Whle the murders at Sandy Hook were horrific in and of themselves, the aftermath was beyond comprehension. Much was extremely hard to listen to.

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  • Alli
  • 01-04-22

Stunned. Truly stunned.

The synopsis and Introduction are both very clear the book is not about the story of the actual shooting, but the "hoax narrative" that sprang up around it. Every time you think "Surely this can't get any crazier," it does. "Surely these conspiracy theorists can't sink to even deeper depravity," they do. "Surely my opinion of Alex Jones is at literal rock bottom," the bottom drops out again.

The fever pitch of conspiracies over the past decade or so makes me think of the time I almost drowned as a kid in the big wave pool at a water park. I liked to float on my tube in the deep end when the waves weren't on, but would make my way back to shallow waters when the wave start alert sounded. Only one day I didn't hear it and was quickly overwhelmed by the current producing the waves. As the people around me were being pulled in and out while I thrashed around, I felt the panic of not being able to fight both the strong current and the throng of bodies crashing around me, but luckily someone pulled me out.

Most of the nutcases in this story are the people in the water crashing into us from all around, whether it's the Sandy Hook "truthers" or election conspiracies or 9/11 or 1/6, but Alex Jones, that bastard is the current stirring up all the madness.

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  • Andrea C. Shebuski
  • 13-03-22

Not What I Thought

I’ve only read one book about this mass shooting. I was hoping for more of a story with details. The story was pretty much completely about political fallout after the tragedy and I could hardly finish it. It also portrayed conservative people, such as myself, at fault for the politics in the aftermath. If this sort of thing interests you, then this is the book for you. The narrator was good, though.

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  • Patrick Jennings
  • 04-06-22

Real truth

This book exposes the horrible nature of people who look to profit at the expense of truly virtuous and innocent people. A MUST READ FOR THOSE WHO SEEK TRUTH!!

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  • Liz
  • 29-05-22

Required reading for anyone who wants to understand mass killings and misinformation

The first few chapters are very emotionally difficult to get through, but the remaining content is enlightening and worth the trouble.

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  • R. H. Kaige
  • 19-04-22

Thanks to the author, & the sources, from Bob

Gripping, I recommend this book, an overview of an horrific event and the continuing fallout

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  • JustMyOpinion
  • 19-06-22

This Was An Eye Opener..

4 Stars...I would not call myself a conspiracy theorist per se, but I am into the paranormal, true crime, and I do entertain some conspiracies. I have studied and read on school shootings and tragedies as early as the Bath incident. They have fascinated and intrigued me for a long time. Columbine is the one I have studied the most extensive. I have definitely heard of Sandy Hook being an event that was a cover-up or didn't happen at all, but I did not believe that personally. I do have a brain, and I usually can stiff out the bs. But I had no idea about how deep and dirty Alex Jones was into hurting the families of these tragic events. He is not someone that I have ever listened to, but I did know of him (I'm more of an Isaac Weishaupt kind of guy myself). But wow! He is a liar. Alex is more than just down the rabbit hole, he's a pure narcissist and evil guy. He's definitely in it to sell his product and damn the people that get in his way. But he is also a coward in many ways. But this book deals with more than Jones. In it we touch on many different school shootings, 9/11, January 6th, and even Oklahoma City Bombing. It encompasses how believing to hard or putting too much thought or entertainment into conspiracies like Sandy Hook that was an obvious real event can damage the fabric of our nation and cause hurt and suffering to people and families that are affected by these tragedies. This book made me aware of just how deep and stupid a conspiracy can be and to look out in the future for things that are just too far down the rabbit hole, and just how far and crazy people can get when they've been brainwashed and are following the crazy 'leader' of an idea or belief. I know what I'm trying to say here, I just hope I'm making it clear to you. You should definitely get this book if you are a conspiracy nerd or are into true crime. It's a must read for our time and culture right now.

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  • Paul
  • 09-06-22

Too political

I thought I was getting a book about a tragic event and a little info about the families. What got was an authors political views.
I went to the "true crime" category, not "politics".
Time to test Audible's "return" policy.

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  • Carol A. Kidwell
  • 08-06-22

Important Book!

If you are looking for gory details about how Adam Lanza slaughtered 20 beautiful kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School, look somewhere else. If you want a compassionate, factual, frightening story about a menacing conspiracy theorist named Alex Jones, who preys on our society every day, and how the amazing parents of Sandy Hook mustered the courage to stand up to his ugliness in the name of the truth and in the name of their children who died in such a cruel and needless tragedy, then this is your lucky day. Elizabeth Williamson has not only done her homework, she has become entrenched with these families and tells their story from the heart! Our Constitutional Rights are to be defended, but not abused!