BOOK REVIEW: The Storm is Upon Us by Mike Rothschild


4/5 stars

Mike Rothschild is fully aware of the irony of him, of all people, being a reporter working on investigating QAnon.

There’s no relation, but as he has admitted in the press junkets for this book, it did make his research more challenging and his subjects more hostile. But The Storm is Upon Us is not just a gawking look at QAnon followers. Rothschild works to understand the origins of the complicated conspiracy theory and its long history in the world of disinformation. This book first came to my attention when Rothschild appeared on Maintenance Phase, a health-myth-debunking podcast, talking about the “wellness” to QAnon pipeline. Yoga gurus, smoothie influencers, mommy lifestyle bloggers who seem genuinely concerned about human trafficking–every day, many of them get closer and closer to just a few clicks away from a mass delusion that attempted to overthrow the government. How?

If you are blessedly unaware of QAnon, it’s a collection of beliefs that mostly involves a belief that a cabal of powerful elites (mostly prominent Democrats, celebrities, and executives) running an underground child sex trafficking ring. And drinking the blood of said children. It sounds bonkers, mostly because it is, but it has led to very serious and very real consequences, including the Capitol insurrection earlier this year.

Rothschild explores the historical origins of these theories, and the long shadow of anti-Semitism that haunts radical movements worldwide. It’s not an easy read, but one that does help to understand where these views came from and how they can take root, especially among people already vulnerable to manipulation–such as the unemployed, looking for a community or an explanation to pin their troubles to. It’s a timely read and a critical look at how COVID-19 will continue to effect politics and society long after vaccination drives end. (Speaking of which, if you live in the UK and haven’t gotten your jab yet, you can book an appointment here, regardless of your immigration or financial status.)

The most useful and effective portion of Rothschild’s book is the end, which contains vital information for helping pull friends and family out of conspiracy communities, and techniques to help chip away at the power of disinformation. Even if someone you know isn’t quite in hard-and-fast QAnon yet, it’s a crucial resource for helping to question their beliefs and move them back towards reality without destroying a relationship.

Thank you very much to Octopus Publishing for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review. THE STORM IS UPON US is out in the UK now.

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