by Seyward Darby
Back Bay Books
Finalist for the Lukas prize
With a New Preface
Journalist Seyward Darby's "masterfully reported and incisive" (Nell Irvin Painter) exposé pulls back the curtain on modern racial and political extremism in America telling the "eye-opening and unforgettable" (Ibram X. Kendi) account of three women immersed in the white nationalist movement.
After the election of Donald J. Trump, journalist Seyward Darby went looking for the women of the so-called "alt-right" -- really just white nationalism with a new label. The mainstream media depicted the alt-right as a bastion of angry white men, but was it? As women headlined resistance to the Trump administration's bigotry and sexism, most notably at the Women's Marches, Darby wanted to know why others were joining a movement espousing racism and anti-feminism. Who were these women, and what did their activism reveal about America's past, present, and future?
Darby researched dozens of women across the country before settling on three -- Corinna Olsen, Ayla Stewart, and Lana Lokteff. Each was born in 1979, and became a white nationalist in the post-9/11 era. Their respective stories of radicalization upend much of what we assume about women, politics, and political extremism.
Corinna, a professional embalmer who was once a body builder, found community in white nationalism before it was the alt-right, while she was grieving the death of her brother and the end of her marriage. For Corinna, hate was more than just personal animus -- it could also bring people together. Eventually, she decided to leave the movement and served as an informant for the FBI.
Ayla, a devoutly Christian mother of six, underwent a personal transformation from self-professed feminist to far-right online personality. Her identification with the burgeoning "tradwife" movement reveals how white nationalism traffics in society's preferred, retrograde ways of seeing women.
Lana, who runs a right-wing media company with her husband, enjoys greater fame and notoriety than many of her sisters in hate. Her work disseminating and monetizing far-right dogma is a testament to the power of disinformation.
With acute psychological insight and eye-opening reporting, Darby steps inside the contemporary hate movement and draws connections to precursors like the Ku Klux Klan. Far more than mere helpmeets, women like Corinna, Ayla, and Lana have been sustaining features of white nationalism. Sisters in Hate shows how the work women do to normalize and propagate racist extremism has consequences well beyond the hate movement.
"'Women are the hate movement's dulcet voices and its standard bearers, ' Seyward Darby observes in Sisters in Hate--a timely, deeply reported, and chilling exploration of the role that women play in promoting white nationalism. By exploring the lives of three different women who have embraced white supremacy, Darby holds a mirror up to American society, illuminating the forces at work within our culture that continue, to this day, to lead to radicalization and violence. Sisters in Hate is a warning cry for the future while also suggesting the possibility of a another, better path forward."-- Pamela Colloff, senior reporter at ProPublica and staff writer at The New York Times Magazine
"Seyward Darby's eye-opening and unforgettable book sheds light on the often-hidden movers of America's growing white nationalist movement: women. By telling the riveting story of the lives of three women advancing their agendas of bigotry, Darby exposes the ways in which white nationalism hinges on the contributions of women."-- Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Anti-Racist and Stamped from the Beginning
About the Author:
Seyward Darby is the editor in chief of The Atavist Magazine. She previously served as the deputy editor of Foreign Policy and the online editor and assistant managing editor of The New Republic. As a writer, she has contributed to The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Elle, and Vanity Fair, among other publications.