White American Youth: My Descent Into America's Most Violent Hate Movement -- And How I Got Out
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About the Author
Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, antiracism advocate, and a former extremist. After leaving the hate movement he helped create during the 1980s and 90s, he began the painstaking process of making amends and rebuilding his life. Christian went on to earn a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launched Goldmill Group, a counter-extremism consulting and digital media firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping people disengage from extremism. For nearly two decades, Christian has helped hundreds of individuals leave hate behind through his disengagement work and the organizations he founded. He has spoken all over the world, including the TEDx stage, where he shares his unique and extensive knowledge about how to effectively prevent and counter extremism. Christian chronicles his involvement in and exit from the early American white-supremacist skinhead movement in his memoir, WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH, and is the featured subject in season 3 of WBEZ's 'Motive' podcast, which received the 2021 National Edward R. Murrow Award for best podcast in large market radio. He showcased his disengagement work in a second book, BREAKING HATE: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism, as well as in the MSNBC documentary series of the same name, which aired in 2018-2019. He is the host of the 'F Your Racist History' podcast, a scripted history show that tells America's hidden, overlooked, and unknown racist origin stories. The first season is currently available across major podcast platforms.
"Christian's journey exemplifies how hate and violence are unsustainable, and tolerance, forgiveness, and love are the only ways forward. If Christian can change, there is hope for all humankind--a compelling and extraordinary story."
--Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival
"If it's disturbingly easy to embrace the white power ideology, it's not as easy to leave behind. Christian's experiences in White American Youth will shock you, but it's his escape and transformation that will inspire. His honest, often brutal memoir charts a journey from hopelessness to redemption. A profoundly important book, and a riveting read."
--John Horgan, author of The Psychology of Terrorism
"Like a skinhead Goodfellas, White American Youth takes us along on a young man's journey to the dark heart of a distasteful organization, somehow making the narrator's descent every bit as understandable and compelling--and all the more tragic. It's a powerful and moving memoir that brought tears to my eyes."
--Gerald Brennan, author of Resistance, Zero Phase, and Public Loneliness
"Fascinating and timely....Written with first-hand knowledge and authority...White American Youth not only tells Picciolini's gripping story, but it is filled with rare insights that put today's rise of white nationalism in perspective."
--Ali Soufan, former FBI special agent and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda
"Simultaneously horrifying and redemptive."--AlterNet
"Chilling...What we have in Christian Picciolini is something of an informant. He asks us to understand, yes, but not with the intention to excuse--rather the hope to dismantle. He is an unabashed truth-teller, and a willing weapon against hate and bigotry all over the world."--Rooster Magazine
"Describes the importance of empathy--how receiving it from others at a time when [Picciolini] felt he least deserved it was lifesaving, helping to pull him out of extremism."
--New York Times Book Review
"Christian Picciolini offers a vivid illustration of the path to extremism...a strange, toxic inversion of the American Dream."--New York Review of Books