Cover Image: They Knew

They Knew

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the digital galley of this book.

The author claims that, “Conspiracy theories are on the rise because officials refuse to enforce accountability for real conspiracies, and while I think it’s more complicated and deep than that, she’s not wrong. This book explores all of the things those in powers do and say to placate us while they continue to profit off of anything and everything possible, including our struggles and misfortunes. In addition to pointing fingers and uncovering how “They Knew,” Kendzior also proposes some ways to get back to our democracy and perhaps even save our society (a little bit).

Though the message isn’t new to me, I learned some things and felt validated by my outrage about *gestures everywhere*. I used to love conspiracy theories, and lately, that’s been totally ruined for me, because they aren’t fun anymore. It’s just old, rich men controlling everything like puppeteers with their money. This book will probably make you angry, but it’s also validating and shares even more than I knew about before reading it. Do recommend, but maybe chase with something light.
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I wanted to love this book, as I’ve enjoyed both of Kendzior’s previous works, but this one missed the mark for me. She is obviously very intelligent and a good writer, but there is a fine line between discussing conspiracy and conspiracy theories and falling prey to them, one that she doesn’t always seem to stick to. On more than one occasion throughout this book it appeared that she had fallen down her own rabbit hole. I also expected this to be more about the history of conspiracy theories in our society and a deeper look at the psychology and behaviors that lead to believing them, but that wasn’t really what this was. To be completely honest, I’m not totally sure what this book was actually meant to be, as there was something missing to really tie the whole narrative together. A lot of this book was an info dump of names and crimes with a dash of “I told you so” from Kendzior thrown in every few pages. I think there probably is an important message to be had here, but it got lost and was just a slog to get through.

Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for the review copy.
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Unfortunately, I have been locked out of my netgalley account for a few months and was not able to see which books I had on my list, in order to properly read and review.  I do apologize and am doing a 3 for neutral.  Will update once I’m able to get it read!
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It's hard to try not to fall into the line of conspiracy theories and know when to sit back and watch things unfold without screaming, but since 2016 and discovering Sarah's work, I find it hard not to say "I told you so" to every naysayer I've encountered. Sarah and her fellow authoritarian scholars have been sounding warnings for years that have gone unheeded. It's easy to find yourself being called a conspiracy theorist when sounding off all of these alarms but Sarah has the receipts to back it up. My only disappointment was that the book was too short and the use of the word 'elite' thrown around too much.
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They Knew is a real world horror story filled with con men, street rats, and politicians who think they are above the law (usually one and the same). They Knew shows us how long this fiasco of “American Nationalism” pedagogy has been going on and how much of a train wreck it truly is. 

American Exceptionalism is a farce of an idea and based on white men believing they are better than women, BIPOC, the poor, etc. because of the color of their skin and their privilege. 

If you’ve been paying any sort of attention for the past 6 years, this book is mostly a recap of the political BS that continues to try to blindside us every day. It leads us all into murky waters, brought there by the news and media outlets that keep chasing the next big story - nevermind that the actual story is the needs of the American people to be able to truly afford to live here and not just on the coattails of the exceedingly ultra wealthy. But why talk about that when they can talk about the celebrity gossip or a computer of an American citizen or something else that will distract us “regular” people from the inferno within?

Kendzior explains the difference between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory and really drives it home. She doesn’t let up, not even once. This book won’t be for everyone but it SHOULD be. Too many people have their heads down, hiding from the constant crap show that we are all enduring. 

Education is a powerful motivation to make change - if it wasn’t so important, these criminals and politicians wouldn’t care about stripping your voice, your VOTE, from any election. This book should be your guide to power through the conspiracy theories and live to tell everyone. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for this eARC. It’s out now and should be on your reading list.
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It's been a long time since I've felt compelled to underline sentences or whole passages in a book, but Sarah Kendzior is that brilliant. For me, this book was really eye-opening; she goes on a deep-dive into conspiracy theories, but in a non-partisan way, reminding me that although Democrats are more honorable than Republicans, they're not perfect. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs help trying to make sense of the past few years of American history. It's not all encouraging (in fact, it's deeply disturbing) but it's very important to read and consider what Kendzior has to say. #TheyKnew #NetGalley
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Sarah speaks truth to power and this book is no different she takes a hard look at the conspiracy machine. Just like all her other books. This one is a hard hitting look at how conspiracies really garm the fabric or our democracy. No party is blameless.
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They Knew is another well-written, thought-provoking book from journalist Sarah Kendzior broadly centered around the politics of our time (but it touches on so much more). Kendzior wrote the best-selling Hiding in Plain Sight, which similarly touched on modern America, the deteriorating state of democracy and Donald Trump. While that book focused more on the forces that inevitably led to the rise of Donald Trump, this one deals more with the aftermath of what happens when the public is consistently lied to and needs an outlet to deal with it. 

Kendzior traces the criminal activity of Trump and many of his associates. To make matters worse (in her mind), Nancy Pelosi and opposing Democrats chose to overlook Trump's criminal activity. This made many feel powerless, as though the Democrats aren't any different from the Republicans. She finds a useful historical parallel in Norman Baker, a charlatan in Eureka Springs, who offered a cure to ailments that wasn't a cure at all and furthermore, he advised people to avoid vaccines at all costs. So, with this political background, it's no secret that conspiracy theories are on the rise right now. 

Kendzior points out that the word conspire means "to breathe together," though the term has evolved over time, mostly with negative connotations. However, there is a clear distinction between a conspiracy and a conspiracy theory. While in the early stages, Watergate was referred to as just some crazy conspiracy theory, it turned out to be a conspiracy in fact because a group of individuals committed an illegal act of burglary. At any rate, she treats the subject with the seriousness it deserves and makes careful distinctions between proven events of conspiracy (like Watergate) and the rise of someone like Alex Jones (someone she would likely describe as a malicious actor trying to take advantage of vulnerable people).
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This book was a terrifying and utterly vital read. Sarah Kendzior does the hard work of not only taking a critical look at conspiratorial thought and the long lasting impacts it has had, is having, and will continue to have for democracy in the US moving forward. However, she goes a step further and casts light on the people who have benefitted from conspiratorial thought and have thus done everything they could to keep the conspiracy wheels moving. 

Sarah Kendzior obviously knows her subject and her expertise shines through in each chapter. Her research skills are astounding and I think this book will be a singificant additon to the growing field of books that talk about the weird mind-bogglingly bonkers conspiracy culture that seems to be taking over our country. When it comes out physically, I will gladly purchase a copy to sit next to Fantasyland and other books that fill a similar void.
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***They Knew by Sarah Kendzior purports to tell the truth about conspiracy versus conspiracy theories.  It’s obvious that the author has done a lot of research, and while she defines herself as an independent she most definitely is a Never Trumper. Within her flowing prose she certainly has adopted the Democrats view of Mr. Trump as the devil incarnate, a shyster, a Mafia don, a totally unfeeling lowlife fraud.  This reader was amazed at how Ms. Kendzior managed to tie President Trump to most every “scandal” she highlighted…all involving Republicans.  She obviously wrote this book before the truth about Hillary Clinton’s role in the Steele dossier and the revelations in Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop.  Quoting the author, “The GOP has been hijacked by a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government.” Regarding the Democrats, they don’t push prosecution hard enough.  She has no respect for Reagan or Bush either. Democrats will rejoice in this book as some of their prime players only are slightly criticized.  I am reminded of a book Bob Schieffer wrote called “The Acting President,” in which he claimed Reagan never had an original thought in his life and was controlled by what was put on his cue cards. This was, of course, written before the discovery of the multitude of boxes holding yellow legal pads filled with Reagan’s handwritten thoughts and rough drafts of speeches and monologues beginning years before he became President and continuing after. This 81 year old reader and political junky understands and recognizes propaganda even when it is presented as truth to correct the record.  I agree that we have lost Lincoln’s concept “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Those who fashion themselves as “elites” have assumed control and their goal is to maintain it by whatever means they can…legally or otherwise.  I highly recommend Victor Davis Hansen’s “The Dying Citizen” to anyone who wants to know how we lost control of our relationship with our elected officials on both sides. There are a lot of interesting events covered in this book to chew on. I just wish the author had been more even handed in her analysis. I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
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