cover image Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System

Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System

Ryan J. Reilly. PublicAffairs, $32.50 (480p) ISBN 978-1-541-70180-9

NBC journalist Reilly debuts with a detailed and riveting report of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot that illuminates the work of a little-known cottage industry involved in the subsequent federal investigation: the “sedition hunters.” A loosely organized group of idiosyncratic individuals working “out of their home offices, from their couches, kitchen tables, bedrooms, [and] garages,” these civilian sleuths made ingenious use of video footage, Twitter posts, and other online sources to identify participants in the siege. Over the course of the coming days and months, they would then convey the identifying information to federal authorities, becoming, according to Reilly, “the most effective tool of the FBI’s Jan. 6 investigation.” Reilly embeds the story of the sedition hunters—their methods (using everything from Facebook to dating apps), their commitment, the community they formed, even their sense of humor (they gave suspects nicknames based on their attire: “Pippi Long Scarf”; “Tricorn Traitor”)—within an almost minute-by-minute narrative of January 6. He also provides new information about some notorious participants—including the Proud Boys, Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers, and Bigo Barnett, who put his feet on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk—and reveals the frustration of Justice Department and FBI investigators with their institutional inability to arrest the entire mob. The result is a crucial new window onto a historic event. (Oct.)