The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball

Noam Cohen (Author)

Product Details

$25.95  $23.87
New Press
Publish Date
November 07, 2017
5.8 X 1.1 X 8.3 inches | 0.95 pounds
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About the Author

Noam Cohen covered the influence of the Internet on the larger culture for the New York Times, where he wrote the Link by Link column, beginning in 2007. He lives in Brooklyn with his family. This is his first book.


Praise for The Know-It-Alls
Included in Backchannel's ( "Top Tech Books of 2017"

An "important" book on the "pervasive influence of Silicon Valley on our economy, culture and politics."
--New York Times

"A valuable addition to the growing body of literature that's trying to explain how a culture of under-socialized wunderkind CEOs drove tech's future into a ditch."
--Backchannel (

"An unabashed critique of the values of Silicon Valley start-ups that increasingly control our lives online."
--Library Journal

"The Know-It-Alls examines highly influential figures such as the often-neglected computer pioneers John McCarthy and Frederick Terman, who helped to transform Stanford, California, and its valley into a digital powerhouse -- McCarthy as the father of artificial intelligence, Terman as a catalyst for local entrepreneurialism. These finely researched portraits are a joy."
--Nature Magazine

"[Cohen] shows how the cult of personality for tech entrepreneurs developed out of a 'combination of a hacker's arrogance and an entrepreneur's greed' and . . . helps chip away at the power these men (another crucial quality) have carved out for themselves. . . . An enlightening breakdown of how Silicon Valley billionaires have shifted popular discourse in their favor."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Individualism is a big part of what makes America great--until it becomes a euphemism for selfishness and arrogance among lucky winners who prefer to believe that luck and other people had nothing to do with their success. The Know-It-Alls is a terrific case study of some of the unreckoned costs of the digital revolution, and how one piece of the American idea threatens to overwhelm the others."
--Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire and host of NPR's Studio 360

"Why is the Internet the way it is? How has commerce come to dominate the scramble for clicks and eyeballs? What kind of people, essentially all of them young men--brainy, ambitious, focused, very young young men--created cyberspace? Via the careers of a dozen of them, Noam Cohen tells the story in this entertaining, refreshingly unworshipful survey."
--Hendrik Hertzberg, author of Politics: Observations & Arguments and ยกObamanos!

"A fascinating intellectual profile of the people who have increasingly come to rule our world. With precision and skill, Noam Cohen tweaks the pretensions of a handful of tech oligarchs, whose self-styled project to better our lives results in little more than a power grab at our economy and our democracy. . . . I'll be turning to Cohen's insights into the profiteers responsible again and again."
--David Dayen, author of Chain of Title

"A provocative and illuminating examination of Silicon Valley. Using profiles of its core digital capitalist giants and the immense political, economic and cultural power they have quickly come to possess, Cohen raises troubling questions about how this can possibly square with a fair, decent, humane, and democratic society. This immensely readable book should be mandatory reading."
--Robert W. McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect