Annalee Newitz with Ed Yong / Stories Are Weapons: Psychological Warfare and the American Mind

Hillside Club

2286 Cedar St., Berkeley, CA 94709

From $15.00

Tue, June 18th, 2024 @ 7:00PM PDT

Booksmith and Berkeley Arts & Letters are thrilled to host friend of the store and author of the nationally-bestselling Four Lost Cities, Annalee Newitz, for Stories Are Weapons: Psychological Warfare and the American Mind, a sharp and timely exploration of the dark art of manipulation through weaponized storytelling. Annalee will be in conversation with Ed Yong, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us. Join us for what is sure to be a special evening!

About the book

In Stories Are Weapons, bestselling author Annalee Newitz traces the way disinformation, propaganda, and violent threats—the essential tool kit for psychological warfare—have evolved from military weapons deployed against foreign adversaries into tools in domestic culture wars. Newitz delves into America’s deep-rooted history with psychological operations, beginning with Benjamin Franklin’s Revolutionary War–era fake newspaper and nineteenth-century wars on Indigenous nations, and reaching its apotheosis with the Cold War and twenty-first-century influence campaigns online. America’s secret weapon has long been coercive storytelling. And there’s a reason for that: operatives who shaped modern psychological warfare drew on their experiences as science fiction writers and in the advertising industry.

Now, through a weapons-transfer program long unacknowledged, psyops have found their way into the hands of culture warriors, transforming democratic debates into toxic wars over American identity. Newitz zeroes in on conflicts over race and intelligence, school board fights over LGBT students, and campaigns against feminist viewpoints, revealing how, in each case, specific groups of Americans are singled out and treated as enemies of the state. Crucially, Newitz delivers a powerful counternarrative, speaking with the researchers and activists who are outlining a pathway to achieving psychological disarmament and cultural peace.

Incisive and essential, Stories are Weapons reveals how our minds have been turned into blood-soaked battlegrounds—and how we can put down our weapons to build something better.

Advance praise for Stories Are Weapons

“Annalee Newitz’s thoroughly researched and masterfully crafted book gives us something hopeful—a way to disarm the narratives that have been used against us and reclaim better ones.” – Ed Yong, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of An Immense World

“Annalee Newitz always sees to the heart of complex systems and breaks them down with poetic ferocity.” – N.K. Jemisin, author of the Broken Earth trilogy

“A brilliant historical deep-dive into psyops, military covert influence operations, and the corporate attempts to conquer the mind. This will change the way you understand America.” – Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood

“Well-researched, accessible, and grounded in history, Stories Are Weapons is at once clarifying, terrifying, and forward-looking. An important contribution to a particular moment in time when so many of us are desperate to try to understand the precarious societal moment and peril in which we find ourselves.” – Anna Holmes, author of The Book of Jezebel

About the authors

Annalee Newitz is a journalist and author of science fiction and nonfiction, including the national best-seller Four Lost Cities. They write for the New York Times and New Scientist and co-host the Hugo Award–winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. They live in San Francisco. Photo by A Klass.

Ed Yong is an award-winning science writer who until recently was a staff writer at The Atlantic. His writing has also appeared in National Geographic, the New Yorker, Wired, the New York Times, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, and more. He talked about mind-controlling parasites at the TED2014 conference, and his talk has been viewed more than 1.4 million times. He is the winner of the Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences (2016), the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award (2016), a National Academies Keck Science Communication Award (2010) and awards from the Association of British Science Writers for Best Science Blog (2014) and Best Communication of Science in a Non-Science Context (2012). Photo by Urszula Soltys.

Please note
  • This is a ticketed, offsite event to be held at Hillside Club (2286 Cedar St., Berkeley).
  • Masks will not be required for this event, but we are limiting capacity somewhat. For that reason, we can't guarantee we'll have space for walk-ins. The best way to ensure you’ll get a seat and a copy of the book night-of is to order the Book + Seat ticket.
  • We are happy to offer *signed copies* of Stories Are Weapons: order a Book + Seat ticket bundle if you'd like to pick up a signed copy at the event, or order here if you just want a signed copy and no admission. You can order Annalee's other books here.
  • Safety protocols are subject to change. If we feel it is not safe to gather, as the event gets closer, we will pivot to a virtual event and your registration will remain valid.
  • Questions? Accessibility requests? Write [email protected].


Refund Policy:

No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

An event can only be canceled by the venue and/or event organizer. If the venue or event organizer cancels an event, you will be refunded within 4 business days of the event date for your purchase.

Hillside Club
2286 Cedar St.
Berkeley, CA 94709