Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground

Emily Parker. FSG/Sarah Crichton, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-17695-2
Parker, a former Wall Street Journal columnist and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, draws on interviews with dissident bloggers in China, Russia, and Cuba to measure the impact of the Internet on the growth of a public presence for democratic opposition. Despite the varied systems of censorship she details, there remain in each country ingenious avenues for shoring up the Internet’s free-flow of information. This communication is having a decisive effect, Parker argues, on counteracting the misinformation, alienation, apathy, and self-censorship relied upon by authoritarian regimes. She takes as her guides some leading bloggers: China’s dissident journalist “Michael Anti”; Cuba’s Laritza Diversent, Reinaldo Escobar, and Yaremis Flores; and Russia’s attorney-activist Alexey Navalny. As in Egypt in 2011, Parker stresses, online communities of “netizens” are hardly “virtual” if they translate into successful calls to public assembly, spur demands for reform, and produce a sense of common cause and action. This informative book cleaves somewhat narrowly to a handful of individuals and political activities in three very different, if generally authoritarian, regimes with restive online populations. There is no substantive discussion, however, of the Internet’s role in non-democratic movements in such countries, for example, or of its place in ongoing battles over communication in open societies like the United States. Agent: Mel Parker, Mel Parker Books. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/2013
Release date: 02/18/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-06229-1
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-374-70934-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-374-53551-3
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