cover image Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth

Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth

Elizabeth Williamson. Dutton, $28 (496p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4657-5

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. After vividly depicting the horrors of Adam Lanza’s murderous rampage at Sandy Hook, Williamson delves into the vital part InfoWars radio show host Alex Jones played in spreading the conspiracy theory that nobody had actually died at the school. Encouraged by his conspiracy-mongering to pursue that wacko theory, members of his audience, already adamant in their distrust of government and the mainstream media, asserted that the tragedy was a stunt intended to bolster liberal efforts to pass gun control legislation and that the grieving parents were actually “crisis actors” faking even the existence of their dead kids. Williamson details how the pernicious reality-denying mentality Jones fostered in the Sandy Hook deniers spread to those Trump supporters who believed that he won the 2020 presidential election and who stormed the Capitol to “stop the steal.” Williamson’s years of research includes interviews with survivors of the school shooting, parents, and first responders, as well as analysis of court documents and other records. She has produced the definitive account of this dark chapter of American history. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Mar.)