Rising Out of Hatred

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

I absolutely enjoyed this book. It was inspiring to know that while the world may be full of hate right now, there is hope that people can change. 

It must have been so difficult for Derek to do what he did, to stand up against his family.  But it shows that while someone might be raised a certain way, connection, education and an open-mind can change that.  I will highly recommend this book.
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I really struggled to read this book. I have read many other reviews in which people complain that the author does directly note when he is quoting Derek or Don. In the author's note at the back of the book, Saslow clearly indicates having spent hours interviewing Derek, Don, Allison, and many others for the book. He thanks them all by name. The writing style is meant to be readable and, thus, useful to discussion and reflection. A more heavily cited book- meaning dates of conversations, etc.- would not have been as readable or easily quoted. 

The hardest part of this book for me was Allison's relentless engagement with Derek. Her willingness to go all the way so that she might engage him was brave and compassionate, but also had to be exhausting. I definitely wanted to hear from her if she had ever drawn a line. If he had refused to renounce, if he had persisted in some of his beliefs, when would she have said, "I love you, but I can't do this." I understand the concept and healing possibilities of relationship, but I felt like I needed more about the long-term costs of her engagement with the ideology and confronting Derek on his whole history. 

Additionally, I would really have liked a bibliography for this book. I realize that Saslow read things recommended by Don Black and David Duke, but it would have been good to have a reference list for people who may want to be the Allison to someone else's Derek. Allison equipped herself for that fight, but Saslow did not help others to do the same. 

I don't know that Derek "rose out" of hatred. I think he was walked out of it. People came alongside him, at the risk of their own safety and mental well-being, and waited him out. They did not indulge him, but they also did not persecute him. 

The fact remains, however, that the whirlwind that Derek sowed is still spinning and wreaking havoc, even as he has turned away from it. The children who imbibed his poisonous words years ago are now adults who do not have the same Allisons and Matthews to walk alongside them. This could be because they don't live near them or it could be because they drove them away for any number of reasons. 

This book underscores the danger of closed community and failure to critically examine what is presented as truth. Furthermore, it shows the very seeds of fear-mongering (with lies) that built the white nationalist movement in the United States. The real question is: will the present Dereks read this book and come to a new understanding of America's possibilities or will they reject this book and double-down on ideologies that divide and tear apart. 

Final comment, I find the cover art a poor choice. The shift from black to white, combined with the verb "rising", implies that white is a more pure state than black. While I want to assume that no one designing the cover meant to imply such things, it is this kind of subtle pairing that continues to support a white/good, black/bad dichotomy. 

I did receive a review copy of this book from Net Galley. 

I also listened to the audiobook version, which did NOT include the author's notes at the end.
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Thankfully, the subtitle gave me the courage to read this compelling story. The transformation of Roland Derek Black from white supremacist movement's heir apparent to a thoughtful, earnest racial equity activist was moving. Saslow's writing smoothly and authentically revealed the organic evolution of Black's ideology.
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Important and timely, 'Rising Out of Hatred' should be required reading. Extremely interesting read.
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I got a copy of this book months and months ago, but with the political environment that I had to see and hear about on a daily basis exhausted me and I ended up waiting a while before reading this so I could almost “mentally prepare myself” for anything that might come up in this book. I was intrigued by the premise of this book. The idea that someone who was raised in such a staunchly white supremacist household (and was the godson of David Duke himself....) and was seen as the future of the movement that could renounce his ideologies and change his views was fascinating to me. I feel like I can’t write a good enough review to give this book proper justice. I will say that at someone who doesn’t identify with any of their core values or beliefs, it was interesting (albeit still very much appalling) to see what reasoning they used to defend their platform.
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Derek Black's story is a really important example of personal change. It is particularly timely as white nationalists are gain mainstream political support and exploiting the dynamics of social inequality in the US. Saslow did a great job with writing this book.
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Timely, eye-opening, horrifying, yet hopeful, I loved this book. It offered a glimpse into a dark and scary part of society.
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Beginning this book was extremely interesting to me, a man who was initially a huge part of the white nationalists movement going against his beliefs. For maybe the first half the book I was extremely interested, and then it slowed down a lot for me. I thought it was great that the people of New College were able to help sway his beliefs, but I’m definitely skeptical. It seems that a lot of the changes in his beliefs were only to appease the girl he was interested in and I wonder if it wasn’t for that romantic connection if he would have gone back on his previous beliefs. Definitely an interesting read and made me think a lot about my own beliefs and the world around me.
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Unbelievable writing and reporting. Can't recommend this enough. I was floored by the detail and the process by which Eli was able to engender trust from his sources.
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Read my full review: https://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2018/11/rising-out-of-hatred-awakening-of.html

4 Stars

Review placed on: Goodreads; Twitter; Facebook; Amazon

My Review: 	Overall, I would say this was a very good read. There were many aspects as to why it made an excellent read. It was interesting to see a man go through growth when put into a less insular setting and have to live with the consequences of his past choices. I felt the author chronicled that well, including Derek's changing relationships (particularly his father) as he went through these changes. 

I also found Derek's classmates reaction to his changing core values very interesting (no spoilers here). 

Overall, I felt the book was a 5 star read. Where I marked it down was due to the author's glaring bias against Conservatives. I had really wanted this to be a "just the facts, ma'am" type of read, but it wasn't. I found "tidbits" of bias added in where it wasn't necessary and brought absolutely nothing to the book. Standing on the outside, I was very sad with this. I thought the author brought a very important book into the market. 

Do I still recommend the book? Hell yes! I recommend it to show that people can change. I recommend it to show that preconceived notions and judgement of others is often wrong and one needs to get to know a person individually BEFORE passing judgement on him/her. Something that in this age of "sheepish" heightened politics and Jim Jones' kool-aid drinking often doesn't occur and a person is judged by the way he/she votes versus the content of his/her character and awakenings during one's life for whatever the reason.

Reviewed for publisher via Netgalley
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I truly wish this was required reading for everyone in American in 2018. 

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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"Rising Out of Hatred" is the fascinating account of one young man's departure from a life dedicated to the cause of white nationalism. The thought-provoking book explores Derek Black's upbringing surrounded by leaders of the KKK (David Duke was his godfather) and Stormfront (the extremist website was founded by his father, Don Black). It also details his time at New College Florida, where he met Jews, blacks and Hispanics in real life basically for the first time. The college community mostly ostracized Derek once they knew about his family, but several students undertook a long-term campaign to win his trust and dismantle his worldview. I'm not giving anything away when I say that they were ultimately successful. Is that strategy of engagement worthwhile? Is it a burden that women and minorities should be expected to bear? The book doesn't have answers, but you'll have a lot to think about while you're reading about Derek and his life.
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Derek Black was the heir apparent to the White Supremacist throne, godson of David Duke, and the son of the founder of the largest hate site in the U.S. This gripping biography tells the story of his transformation, from racist wunderkind to social justice proponent. Thanks go to Net Galley and Doubleday for the review copy. This book is for sale now. 

As a young person bent on following his family’s toxic legacy, Black felt that part of the secret to gaining support was in softening the language that went with it. Rather than spewing angry racist jargon around, he argued, Caucasians should instead point to their own pride in ancestry. Everybody gets to be proud of who they are and where they came from, right? So his people just happened to be proud of being from Northern Europe. And then it follows that of course they would prefer to be surrounded by others like themselves. Thus, the call for a Euro-American homeland was, he argued, a reasonable demand. 

Later he would hear some of his own catch-phrases used by members of the Trump cabinet. 

Derek had never known anyone that wasn’t white; his parents had seen to that. When he went to the New College of Florida, he escaped the terrarium in which he’d been homeschooled, and he came to know a more diverse set of people. This story tells us not only of his own inner struggle and evolution, but also of the painstaking manner in which his new friends cultivated him and became an undeniable part of his life. They invited him to Shabbat meals regularly, gradually breaking down his resistance. In time he came to see the contradictions between the ideology in which he had been raised, and the reality of the real human beings that were now part of his life.

I am amazed at the patience and perseverance of the young people that changed his thinking. I myself would have beat feet far away from a character like this guy, particularly given the enormous stake he had in remaining exactly who he’d been raised to be. Befriend this person? Why would anyone? But they did it, and they met with success. 

Black was inclined to withdraw from public life, to fade into the general population as quickly as possible, but his girlfriend persuaded him that since he had made a difference in the wrong way, he owed it to the world to counter that with a more public repudiation. 

Saslow is a Pulitzer winner, and his writing is tight and urgent. I didn’t put this story down often once I had begun it. At the same time, Black’s story is told so intimately that it feels a little strange to suddenly realize that Saslow is in it, and we don’t get much information as to how he got there. I would have liked to see a more natural segue from his development, to his conversations with his biographer. It felt a bit abrupt to me.

This, however, is a small concern. The book is fascinating, and you should get it and read it.
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This was an eye-opener. It brings readers into the mind and life of a former white nationalist and his life after leaving. I was apprehensive and honestly scared going into this due to the subject of white nationalism, but also curious to see how a member would leave such a group. I'm amazed that Derek, who grew up and was raised by the most alt-right figures, opened his eyes and left the toxic group. Good for him.
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Written by Thelonia


Derek Black was raised to be the great white leader of the growing White Supremacist movement in America. Unfortunately for the movement, through exposure and the unflagging efforts of others, Derek eventually dissociated himself with White Supremacy, turning his back on everything he'd ever known. Rising Out of Hatred covers the entirety of that journey from Derek and those who reached out to him's perspectives, creating a multifaceted and moving portrait on compassion, hatred, and how to make actual change in people whose beliefs are supremely opposite to yours.



Derek is the son of Don Black, renowned White Supremacist and of founder of the website Stormfront (link goes to the SPLC website, not the Stormfront website, because I love you all and would not do that to you). He was raised not only as a core member and heir apparent to the movement, but also as a uniquely powerful voice to both advertise and convert other youths to the White Nationalist/Supremacist cause.



Rising Out of Hatred tells Derek's story as he goes to a mostly liberal college and for the first time in his life surrounds himself with those he's been preaching against his entire life. Many of these people, particularly those who were in direct contact with him, are interviewed and it is very interesting to hear their point of view and how they almost (but not quite) all managed to not give up faith in Derek even when it seemed like his opinions would never be able to be changed.



The writer, Eli Saslow, does a good job of explaining Derek's arguments both for those who are completely unfamiliar and all-too familiar with the particular rhetoric devices used in arguments with White Supremacists. Still, much of this book is frustrating if only because you know the ending (it's part of the title after all - he's going to forsake his White Nationalist beliefs). But every time you get close to thinking it's about to happen, there's a "small step forward, still a White Nationalist" reminder. But this is a simple way to show the patient of everyone who pushed him in the right direction (to be fair, many of them do eventually run out of patience and stop trying). It is the aggregate efforts of everyone Derek came in contact with that made him change his beliefs for the better.







Frustrating at times, and at others seemingly endless (at least when you start getting , Rising Out of Hatred is an extraordinary look at how communities and particularly diverse ones can work to erase widespread lies and confusion spread in insular white communities. My one quibble is I'm not sure how this would read to a person of color, it might be entirely exhausting if you've been doing the work of trying to educate other people to read about someone who doesn't want to learn, but I'd definitely recommend to those who seek out information on the 'other side,' as well as those who have already dipped a toe into groups and communities like those Derek distanced himself from.



Rising Out of Hatred is an encouraging and hopeful read that can feel a bit emotionally draining depending on how much you've been exposed to the arguments and rationale of White Nationalists. I would definitely recommend that those who've not been exposed to that kind of talk, to catch up on the arguments of the 'other side' and learn just how entrenched some of these beliefs can be, even when exposed to logic and emotion.





Rising Out of Hatred is available everywhere books are sold.
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I had this advanced reader copy for 2 months before I finally felt ready to read it. I was worried what I would find. Then the book was published and I picked up a copy from my local library thinking it would be easier to read in physical copy than on the computer screen. With that, however, I was afraid to have the book where anyone might see it. I didn’t want people to glimpse only the words “white nationalist” on the cover and jump to conclusions.

All that to say, I have read a number of books about race written by people of color. They aren’t always easy to read, but I dive in eager to learn from their words and experiences. Rising Out of Hatred is the flip side of the equation. It begins with the perpetrator side of the story. Somehow it seems so much easier to read the victim side. When you read the victim side, you can sympathize, you can be shocked. What do you do when you read the perpetrator side? How do you feel?

This is what kept me from picking up the book for so long, even though I wanted to learn from this story.

If I hadn’t already been anxious, the table of contents gave another clue of the tension to come, with chapters titled, “This is Scary,” “So Much Worse than I Ever Thought,” and “All-Out Mayhem.” Still, I am trying to educate myself on racial and social justice, which means I need to understand many stories. Finally, after a deep centering breath, I started reading.

Eli Saslow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. In this book, he writes about the transformation of Derek Black, heir of the white nationalist movement who ultimately became an advocate for racial and social justice.

Derek was homeschooled and during that time he already began to insert himself on the white nationalist movement. He created a kids version of the Stormfront website — a website for white nationalists — and later joined his father on a daily radio show of the same kind. He continued to call in to the radio show daily while attending the liberal New College in Florida. It is there that he befriended a Mexican immigrant, a convert to Kaballah Judaism, and then fell for a Jewish woman. Through the relationships formed there, he slowly begins to unravel his beliefs. Ultimately, he publicly renounces white nationalism, which has familial repercussions.

Saslow approaches this material with a thorough journalistic eye. He relays the events that happened based on interviews he conducted with many of the people mentioned in the book, as well as studying correspondence that was shared with him.

The book is engaging, and I found myself flying through much quicker than I expected to. The complete 180-degree flip in beliefs is fascinating to follow. Many of the students at New College wanted to ostracize Derek when they learned of his affiliation. A few students had already built friendships with him and decided that what they had seen from him didn’t seem to match his white nationalist propaganda. If those were truly his beliefs, why would he join them for Shabbat dinner on Friday nights? Why would he continue to speak with them? The result of continuing to pursue the friendships was that Derek began to question what he had always believed. He began to research other ideas, explore other countries, and through debate with a young woman named Allison transformed his own belief system.

I highly recommend this book. Don’t be afraid to read it like I was.

Disclaimer: I received an advance-read copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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If you like reading about the depth of a racial situation which has turned out for the better, this is the book for you.  

Saslow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was so deeply ensconced in his beliefs that he secretly ran a radio show to further these ideas.  It was during this time that his identity was discovered and he was forced to face his once-poisonous concepts.  This is when he got turned around.

The hate just trickled down from two previous generations.  However, Saslow is the one who had the courage to realize the real truth.  A truth which does not exclude a countless innocent others.
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I can't stop talking about this book and recommending it to everyone book reader I know especially those who, like me have a difficult time wrapping our minds around racism, white supremacy and in general hatred towards someone because they are "different" from us.

This book is about Derek Black, the son of  Don Black ( of the white nationalists). Derek Black was raised in the white nationalist movement. He became the face of it. He was raised to become the future of it and coined the phrase "white genocide".

Derek is incredibly intelligent, well mannered and when he leaves home to attend a liberal college, he easily blends in and seems like everyone else until --  it is revealed who he really is. Many students are outraged but others seek him out, those who he befriended before and over time dialogue flows between them and Derek. Derek slowly begins to see them in a different light.

Derek starts to have in depth conversations with a friend (who becomes more) and pull away from Stormfront. He eventually publicly denounces the white nationalist movement, changing the course of his life.

This is by far the most important book I have read this years and I encourage you do read it. Get insight into the hatred and discover what  a strong character Derek Black has.

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a
honest review.
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The first time I heard of Derek Black was on an episode of the podcast The Daily. I found his story fascinating even then, and when I had a chance to read this book, I was excited to learn more. Rising Out of Hatred tells Derek's story, but also that of his family and though I will never truly understand let alone condone the "movement" of white supremacy, I found it disturbingly intriguing to see their reasoning for such hateful ideology. It's incredible that Derek - through his experiences and influences in college - was able to understand that this was wrong and that he had to change his thinking and his actions. The fact that he did and that he is willing to be open about his experience gives me hope that people can change. I don't want to talk specifics about current politics in the US, but we all know how divisive the environment has become. We need to keep the hope alive that we can recover from this time of so much outward hatred and partisan division, and be open and willing to learn about the experiences and thoughts of others in the way Derek Black did. It's important to be willing not to dismiss those who think differently from us as ignorant idiots, but to try to understand why they think the way they do and how to approach that. I am not saying I am the paragon of this behavior by any means. I am angry, too, and disappointed with the mood of the time, but I want to be better than that, and I want us all to be better than that. I feel I am veering away from the book now, and maybe that's fine, because it provoked thoughts in me that go well beyond Derek's story and wrap around the problems of the world and society of today and of the past.

Thanks to Netgalley for supplying me with a copy of Rising Out of Hatred in exchange for an honest review.
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A compelling, hard to put down narrative of the life and transformation of Derek Black, scion of the white nationalist movement.

The author has put to good use a lot of primary sources and information from interviews to set forth the story of Derek's life: his origins, the backstory of his father and his exploits, his development and advancement in white nationalism and his work with his father on the Stormfront website, and then his experiences at the New School in Sarasota, Florida, and how the combination of hospitality from some practicing Jewish students and a strong relationship with a girl who was committed to helping him get away from the white nationalist movement, and the otherwise general isolation he experienced because of his belief system, forced him to reconsider his assumptions, looked at what the data really said, and saw how his viewpoint caused great damage to other people, and thus his exit from the white nationalist movement, and the effects it had on his relationship with his family.  Meanwhile, the author does well at showing how the kind of argumentation which Derek pioneered ended up becoming a major force among some in the "Tea Party," then the Trump campaign and administration, and the growth of the alt-right.

The author has done extremely well at telling the story and portraying the Black family for what it is and what it believes about as fairly as can be done, and it helps the reader to better understand the deep-seated fears and prejudices of the white nationalist movement.  

To think this whole thing is the brainchild of three people, essentially, and has become such a force in modern day politics is a bit distressing.  Perhaps some will be moved by experience, reason, and evidence like Derek was; but the shunning and other forms of protest also plays a part, even if the impulse toward these things are not always noble, and often in excess.  

Highly recommended reading.
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