Elizabeth Williamson's investigation of the aftermath of a school shooting, the work of Sandy Hook parents who fought to defend themselves, and the truth of their children's fate against the frenzied distortions of online deniers and conspiracy theorists.
... exactly what it purports to be, though the title couldn’t have prepared me for the level of schooling I was about to get ... split into almost 30 chapters, each one with as much care and integrity as the last ... Filled with the most impeccable details — the ones that rarely make it into tight news reports — Williamson draws on documented facts to paint pertinent portraits of the families and victims of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting in Newtown, Connecticut ... a well documented explanation of a tragedy, receipts in hand and nicely organized in the book’s notes section ... Expert organization keeps the narrative momentum up, never stagnating on any one person or topic. Williamson artfully lays foundations throughout, using these touch points to gently remind readers who’s who in the long list of people who appear in 'Sandy Hook' ... That said, the book is exhausting: vivid accounts of grief, heartbreaking details of Sandy Hook, terrifying things people have said and done in the dark anonymity of the internet. The thick web of connections explored within reaches from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to QAnon and everything in between ... Somehow, despite the depressing nature of the subject matter, Sandy Hook remains hopeful ... Conspiracies and our post-truth reality are topics that have become evergreen, making Sandy Hook one of the most important books of 2022
In her deeply researched and painfully compelling book, Williamson makes the smart choice not to fulminate over the many, florid misdeeds of Jones and his lesser-known collaborators. Instead, she coolly assembles a great wall of evidence and observation, calmly documenting Jones’ myriad lies, and describing his gonzo shenanigans with an often amusing sobriety. Most effectively, she juxtaposes the sincerity of the bereaved parents with the red-faced, ranting Jones ... If ever a story called for the careful, levelheaded exposition of traditional reportage it’s this one, set against a relentless chorus of yelling ... One of the particular strengths of Sandy Hook is that it offers many in-depth accounts of and interviews with Sandy Hook hoaxers, a motley crew of misfits and crackpots ... When Williamson finally landed an interview with Jones, it took place in a small room at Infowars HQ in Texas. She found him and his rants about the First Amendment shopworn and 'tiresome,' but her masterful description of the encounter is anything but.
... a meticulously reported book about a decade-old tragedy that is more relevant than ever. Williamson does not dwell on the mental illness of the gunman who committed the unspeakable violence. Nor does the book tackle the weightier questions about gun policy ... Williamson’s topic is the assault on truth ... Williamson has produced heartbreaking portraits of the parents, people who suffered the greatest loss imaginable, that of a child, only to be victimized again by years of abuse ... Despite the recent courtroom victories of Sandy Hook’s parents, it is hard to read this book without being utterly terrified — in many ways, it’s the scariest I’ve ever read. The book speaks to the persistence of delusion and the elusiveness of truth. It doesn’t bode well for the future.