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  • NYS Writers Institute

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:

What our contagion fables are really about, Jill Lepore, March 23, 2020, 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:

These Truths: A History of the United States:

This America: The Case for the Nation:

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

For more information on the Rebuilding the Republic series, visit:


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