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Historian Jill Lepore: The birth and future of data mining and voter manipulation

"I do think there's a culture and an ethos to [Silicon Valley] that quite specifically disavows the importance of the past ... because the gospel of Silicon Valley is the concept of disruptive innovation ... 'As long as we never look back there will never be any stock to take about what we've done.'”

-- Jill Lepore


Jill Lepore, one of the great American historians of her generation, is the author of the new book, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future (2020), a revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century.


Launched in 1959, the Simulmatics Corporation mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge― decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. In advance praise, novelist George Saunders said, “A person can’t help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing.”


Longlisted for the National Book Award, If Then was named a “Best Book of 2020” by the Financial Times and Oprah’s O. Magazine, and a “Most Anticipated Book” by Time magazine.


A staff writer for The New Yorker, and professor of American History at Harvard, Lepore is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist: in 2006 for New York Burning, the history of a little-known slave revolt in colonial Manhattan, and in 2019 for Criticism. Other bestsellers include These Truths: A History of the United States (2018) and This America: The Case for the Nation (2019).

More about Jill Lepore:

Jill Lepore's profile page at Harvard: https://scholar.harvard.edu/jlepore/home

What our contagion fables are really about, Jill Lepore, March 23, 2020, The New Yorker

Jill Lepore on Writing the Story of America (in 1,000 Pages or Less), Sept. 16, 2018, The New York Times

How Historian Jill Lepore Found a Whole New Story to Tell About American History, Jan. 7, 2019, Rolling Stone

No, We Cannot, A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction: What to make of our new literature of radical pessimism, May 29, 2017 The New Yorker

The Public Historian: A Conversation with Jill Lepore, September/October 2009, National Endowment for the Humanities


You may purchase Jill Lepore's bookss at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future: www.bhny.com/book/9781631496103

These Truths: A History of the United States: www.bhny.com/book/9780393357424

This America: The Case for the Nation: www.bhny.com/book/9781631496417


Click on the image below to view more of her books:

For more information on the Rebuilding the Republic series, visit: www.nyswritersinstitute.org/rebuildngtherepublic



NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

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