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White American Youth: My Descent into America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out

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A stunning look inside the world of violent hate groups by a onetime white supremacist leader who, shaken by a personal tragedy, realized the error of his ways and abandoned his destructive life to become an anti-hate activist. As he stumbled through high school, struggling to find a community among other fans of punk rock music, Christian Picciolini was recruited by a no A stunning look inside the world of violent hate groups by a onetime white supremacist leader who, shaken by a personal tragedy, realized the error of his ways and abandoned his destructive life to become an anti-hate activist. As he stumbled through high school, struggling to find a community among other fans of punk rock music, Christian Picciolini was recruited by a now notorious white power skinhead leader and encouraged to fight with the movement to "protect the white race from extinction." Soon, he had become an expert in racist philosophies, a terror who roamed the neighborhood, quick to throw fists. When his mentor was arrested and sentenced to eleven years in prison, sixteen-year-old Picciolini took over the man's role as the leader of an infamous neo-Nazi skinhead group. Seduced by the power he accrued through intimidation, and swept up in the rhetoric he had adopted, Picciolini worked to grow an army of extremists. He used music as a recruitment tool, launching his own propaganda band that performed at white power rallies around the world. But slowly, as he started a family of his own and a job that for the first time brought him face to face with people from all walks of life, he began to recognize the cracks in his hateful ideology. Then a shocking loss at the hands of racial violence changed his life forever, and Picciolini realized too late the full extent of the harm he'd caused. Raw, inspiring, and heartbreakingly candid, White American Youth tells the fascinating story of how so many young people lose themselves in a culture of hatred and violence and how the criminal networks they forge terrorize and divide our nation.


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A stunning look inside the world of violent hate groups by a onetime white supremacist leader who, shaken by a personal tragedy, realized the error of his ways and abandoned his destructive life to become an anti-hate activist. As he stumbled through high school, struggling to find a community among other fans of punk rock music, Christian Picciolini was recruited by a no A stunning look inside the world of violent hate groups by a onetime white supremacist leader who, shaken by a personal tragedy, realized the error of his ways and abandoned his destructive life to become an anti-hate activist. As he stumbled through high school, struggling to find a community among other fans of punk rock music, Christian Picciolini was recruited by a now notorious white power skinhead leader and encouraged to fight with the movement to "protect the white race from extinction." Soon, he had become an expert in racist philosophies, a terror who roamed the neighborhood, quick to throw fists. When his mentor was arrested and sentenced to eleven years in prison, sixteen-year-old Picciolini took over the man's role as the leader of an infamous neo-Nazi skinhead group. Seduced by the power he accrued through intimidation, and swept up in the rhetoric he had adopted, Picciolini worked to grow an army of extremists. He used music as a recruitment tool, launching his own propaganda band that performed at white power rallies around the world. But slowly, as he started a family of his own and a job that for the first time brought him face to face with people from all walks of life, he began to recognize the cracks in his hateful ideology. Then a shocking loss at the hands of racial violence changed his life forever, and Picciolini realized too late the full extent of the harm he'd caused. Raw, inspiring, and heartbreakingly candid, White American Youth tells the fascinating story of how so many young people lose themselves in a culture of hatred and violence and how the criminal networks they forge terrorize and divide our nation.

30 review for White American Youth: My Descent into America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out

  1. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Timely and highly compelling piece of narrative non-fiction. I just stayed up way too late to finish it! What struck me most was the visceral nature of the prose. The author's life is portrayed so vividly, from the loneliness, confusion and disaffection of youth to the joy of acceptance by someone at least. Later, we feel the excitement of violence, the thrill of being something bigger than yourself, of playing in a band and having a room full of folk dressed like you go absolutely nuts. It's eas Timely and highly compelling piece of narrative non-fiction. I just stayed up way too late to finish it! What struck me most was the visceral nature of the prose. The author's life is portrayed so vividly, from the loneliness, confusion and disaffection of youth to the joy of acceptance by someone at least. Later, we feel the excitement of violence, the thrill of being something bigger than yourself, of playing in a band and having a room full of folk dressed like you go absolutely nuts. It's easy to see, reading this book, why white power movements are so seductive. People get lost at the wayside, attacked. Become the victims of misdirected anger. Being possessed by an evil ideology comes at several immense costs—personal, familial, social... what with the reach of white power music, global, even. Those costs may remain hidden for years and years, festering until their final too-late revelation. More wholesome joys permeate the narrative: finding love, having children, forming unlikely friendships... Jesus, how will all that pan out? Check out this Atlantic piece on the guy behind The Daily Stormer. Picciolini's story is woefully archetypal. That makes it gripping, terrifying and essential reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I found this book after hearing a podcast of Christian doing a live talk with Sam Harris. I was hoping for some kind of deeper analysis of why he became a neo-nazi skinhead, then why he left, but the book was basically devoid of intellectual content -- a "love everyone" cliche. His life story is basically angry teenager: who became a street fighter and teenaged nazi, then grew up with the movement into the inevitable dead end, left when his wife complained about it, ran a small business (a recor I found this book after hearing a podcast of Christian doing a live talk with Sam Harris. I was hoping for some kind of deeper analysis of why he became a neo-nazi skinhead, then why he left, but the book was basically devoid of intellectual content -- a "love everyone" cliche. His life story is basically angry teenager: who became a street fighter and teenaged nazi, then grew up with the movement into the inevitable dead end, left when his wife complained about it, ran a small business (a record store), got a lucky break and an IT job with IBM, then became some kind of SJW speaker. I didn't find this particularly novel or interesting -- lots of kids get into stupid things for no good reason, then eventually leave as they get older. Becoming a skinhead neo-nazi is a bit more extreme than an video game addict or hardocre high school athlete, but it's essentially the same thing -- a transition-period identity which someone grows out of. What was interesting was accidental. 1) The role of music in fueling the neo nazi movement (and extremist movements in general. 2) That people are brought together through capitalism/commerce, even people who otherwise hate each other -- when he started a small and originally racist-focused record store, he started having positive interactions with customers he would have fought out on the street (and then ironically ended up pulling the racist music his store primarily sold, making it no longer viable as a business). He failed to notice that he'd been supported by others (first his parents, then the state through make-work jobs and welfare) for most of his life, and that this essentially enabled his behavior. I was hoping for some kind of rational argument against racism or hate; none of that in this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I checked this book out after I listened to an interview with the author on NPR’s Fresh Air. I couldn’t put it down. Not exactly for the faint of heart, this is a heartbreaking and horrifying story about a lonely, angry kid who gets swept up by a few charismatic individuals who offer him a sense of purpose and belonging, preying upon his sense of disenfranchisement... which eventually leads to his indoctrination into America’s white power skinhead movement. He finds himself heading down a dark tu I checked this book out after I listened to an interview with the author on NPR’s Fresh Air. I couldn’t put it down. Not exactly for the faint of heart, this is a heartbreaking and horrifying story about a lonely, angry kid who gets swept up by a few charismatic individuals who offer him a sense of purpose and belonging, preying upon his sense of disenfranchisement... which eventually leads to his indoctrination into America’s white power skinhead movement. He finds himself heading down a dark tunnel of hatred and violence, spewing the twisted rhetoric of his newfound far-right ideals even while he begins to question the gravity of his actions. He details his misspent youth, and eventually how he was fortunate enough to escape his Nazi punk life and channel the hatred into positive change for the well-being of all people. He co-founded the non-profit Life After Hate, to help disengage others from hate movements. The ending felt rushed, but the book was otherwise well-written and direct. The content and message, relevant. Compassion and empathy are crucial. That can’t be stated enough.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fike

    White American Youth is a frank exploration of the life of Christian Piccioloni. The book I s an enlightening exploration into the underbelly of the white nationalist skinhead movement in America. As an insecure son of immigrant parents Picciolini discovered acceptance and purpose in a Chicago skinhead group. After his mentor was imprisoned, Picciolini rose through the ranks quickly to become a national leader of this movement, as well as, the front man for a white supremacist band. Through viol White American Youth is a frank exploration of the life of Christian Piccioloni. The book I s an enlightening exploration into the underbelly of the white nationalist skinhead movement in America. As an insecure son of immigrant parents Picciolini discovered acceptance and purpose in a Chicago skinhead group. After his mentor was imprisoned, Picciolini rose through the ranks quickly to become a national leader of this movement, as well as, the front man for a white supremacist band. Through violence and intimidation he led this movement. Hatred seethed through his pores. Through a failed marriage he became more and more aware of the corruption of this movement and the philosophy behind it. In time his eyes were opened to the truth of his insecurity, self-loathing, and need for genuine love. These deep needs could never be met in racial hatred and the people who promoted this insidious ideology. What I found most disturbing is how the radical philosophy behind this violent movement has moved from the periphery, to the mainstream. White nationalism has always existed in America, but only recently has it resurfaced on the national political scene. An excellent read for anyone interested in exploring this insidious movement or those who believe in the possibility of redemption.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Guy is a pathetic little whiner who never truly understood the movement and never will. Those that are honest know there is no leaving the facts you learn behind. He was a snobby little middle class kid who was angry mommy and daddy didn't spend enough time with him and was never suited for the life he chose for several years. The definition of a cuck if I ever saw one. Could have been worse he could have claimed the reason he left it all behind was bc of his kids like another traitors book I re Guy is a pathetic little whiner who never truly understood the movement and never will. Those that are honest know there is no leaving the facts you learn behind. He was a snobby little middle class kid who was angry mommy and daddy didn't spend enough time with him and was never suited for the life he chose for several years. The definition of a cuck if I ever saw one. Could have been worse he could have claimed the reason he left it all behind was bc of his kids like another traitors book I read stated. Overall slightly interesting story but no substance he couldn't even defend his brother's death at the hands of gang bangers bc he lost his spine and spirit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I found out about this book through the Northern Illinois librarian professional network. Oak Lawn Public Library had Christopher Picciolini speak at a library program. It helps that I'm familiar with the area Picciolini grew up. I am from the northwest suburbs of Chicago BUT my boyfriend is from Oak Lawn. Many friends' parents are from Blue Island and another one of our good friends graduated from Eisenhower High School. South Side culture is unique an also completely different from the rest of I found out about this book through the Northern Illinois librarian professional network. Oak Lawn Public Library had Christopher Picciolini speak at a library program. It helps that I'm familiar with the area Picciolini grew up. I am from the northwest suburbs of Chicago BUT my boyfriend is from Oak Lawn. Many friends' parents are from Blue Island and another one of our good friends graduated from Eisenhower High School. South Side culture is unique an also completely different from the rest of Chicago / the surrounding region. It does not surprise me that Picciolini was able to develop a white nationalist skinhead movement down there. I say that because South Siders are waaay more up-front about race than anyone else in Chicagoland. However, Chicago is the most racially segregated place I have ever been in the United States. This same thing could have happened further north or out in the northwest 'burbs by me; it would have just been covered up inside the homes of millionaires whose children are literal perfection. Other regions of Chicago claim to be not racist, but if you look around the only people there are white people and it is not a mistake. It is interesting to me how horrifyingly segregated and racist Chicago is compared to cities I have been to in the South like Atlanta or Washington DC. Martin Luther King Jr. did even mention in his last book that the Civil Rights Era forced Southern cities to figure out their shit while Northern Cities got the free pass on racism since they won the Civil War (or in Illinois' case, because they are The Land of Lincoln). And then, of course, these Yanks brought the Neo-Nazi skinhead movement to the United States and made in popular. I'm also way interested in this perspective because it is so unimaginable for me. My grandfather was born into the Third Reich in 1938 so I have very real Nazis and SS Men in my direct family tree. Even though my grandfather immigrated to Chicago in the 1950s, the effect of Nazi propaganda are visible and real in 2018. In my childhood, the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music were "dirty traitors" to Germany because they fled the Nazi regime. Also, the film Schindler's List is "Jewish propaganda bullshit." With him though, THE JEWS are the issue, not individual Jewish people he happens to know and be friends with. I can't imagine taking on a Neo-Nazi American perspective because I feel responsible for righting the wrongs of my family or at least making my life count for something when so many others were murdered so that my family could have a future resulting in my life. It would be interesting to see how many descendants of German immigrants end up as Neo-Nazis cause this Italian guy doesn't have any of that in his blood. ALLLL of that aside, this book is awesome and you should read it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike Davis

    I was lucky enough to find a copy of Christian's book at a recent conference, and I was already familiar with him through stories from other people. For that reason I was more than prepared to be a fan of this book. It was not a pleasant read, that is, a good portion of this book is spent watching someone go deeper and deeper into an abyss. It seemed inevitable at the start of things. He was young and impressionable, and someone made an impression. What would otherwise be leadership and ingenuit I was lucky enough to find a copy of Christian's book at a recent conference, and I was already familiar with him through stories from other people. For that reason I was more than prepared to be a fan of this book. It was not a pleasant read, that is, a good portion of this book is spent watching someone go deeper and deeper into an abyss. It seemed inevitable at the start of things. He was young and impressionable, and someone made an impression. What would otherwise be leadership and ingenuity in any other use, was twisted into something darker and more sinister. There were parts in here where the fear he is facing is easy to feel. Being asked to point a gun and fire it in the direction of an innocent person while a gun was to his own head must have been terrifying. This example is extreme, but I think there was something common in it. Many of us have been in a position where our actions simply must line up with our posturing. Christian's was much more high stakes, and each time it was easier for him to rise to the challenge than walk away. Music played a large role in this, and I looked up some of the band names on Spotify. While Skrewdriver isn't a band, there is a playlist with more than 3000 followers. This outlet is there for a lot of people. It seemed to me that the lifestyle was a lot of work, but for disaffected youth with excess time, it might be attractive. Looking back on my life, I can see that the maintenance of enemies was very intensive work. I wonder why I would ever do that. I am glad that Christian made (and continues to make) the amends he could make. More importantly, I am grateful that he represents a way out for anyone in the lifestyle that shouldn't be. I hope more people give this a read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rich Humes

    I originally heard about this book when the author was interviewed on Waking Up, the Sam Harris podcast. I put his book on my "To Read" list because it sounded interesting. Then, days later, I heard his Ted Talk. Odd coincidence. Then two days ago while walking around my favorite bookstore this jumped right out at me. I figured the universe was speaking to me so I grabbed it. I haven't put it down too much since. It's a dangerously relatable story for me. Watching the author go down this path remin I originally heard about this book when the author was interviewed on Waking Up, the Sam Harris podcast. I put his book on my "To Read" list because it sounded interesting. Then, days later, I heard his Ted Talk. Odd coincidence. Then two days ago while walking around my favorite bookstore this jumped right out at me. I figured the universe was speaking to me so I grabbed it. I haven't put it down too much since. It's a dangerously relatable story for me. Watching the author go down this path reminded me of how easily it would have been for me to take the same one. The Skrewdriver tapes being handed out in the late 80s were also handed out in the late 90s. Also, it's a timely read in the current political climate. Fairly easy read that I'd recommend to anyone, especially if you have kids. Get them to read it too.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Certainly speaks to the need for strong, involved father figures. It underscores how easily teens can become lost. However, this is not a new problem nor is it limited to humans. The lessons from this book are needed more today than ever. Check out the elephants from Pilanesberg National Park. Yes, elephants. Even if you don't read the book, check-out The Delinquents of Pilanesberg - https://www.kotafoundation.org/the-de... Certainly speaks to the need for strong, involved father figures. It underscores how easily teens can become lost. However, this is not a new problem nor is it limited to humans. The lessons from this book are needed more today than ever. Check out the elephants from Pilanesberg National Park. Yes, elephants. Even if you don't read the book, check-out The Delinquents of Pilanesberg - https://www.kotafoundation.org/the-de...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fishface

    Chris Picciolini's memoir of growing up skinhead -- what drew him in, what dragged him back out again almost a decade later, and how he made sense of it all. Well-written, and illustrated throughout with photos doctored in the traditional manner of the punk-rock era. If only I could have shopped at Chaos Records while it was still open for business! This book is well worth your time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    J.E.H. Roth

    “Don’t you know that’s exactly what the Communists and Jews want you to do, so they can keep you docile?” Clark Martell to Christian Picciolini in an alley c: 1987. Christian Picciolini’s life story is based on ethnic isolation. He starts with early upbringing in a Southside Chicago neighborhood mostly inhabited by other recently immigrated residents from Ripacandida, a small town in Southern Italy. His maternal grandparents and widowed paternal grandmother had immigrated to the U.S. and Christia “Don’t you know that’s exactly what the Communists and Jews want you to do, so they can keep you docile?” Clark Martell to Christian Picciolini in an alley c: 1987. Christian Picciolini’s life story is based on ethnic isolation. He starts with early upbringing in a Southside Chicago neighborhood mostly inhabited by other recently immigrated residents from Ripacandida, a small town in Southern Italy. His maternal grandparents and widowed paternal grandmother had immigrated to the U.S. and Christian’s parents met and married in Chicago. Like many Italian-American families, Christian attended Catholic school. His mother rejected the public school because she had attended there and had been mocked for her inability to speak English well. His parents wanted the best American upbringing for Christian and his younger brother, so they worked very hard and long hours as beauticians and left most of Christian’s upbringing up to his grandparents. In 1987, when Christian, about 14-years old, smokes a joint in an alley, he is approached/accosted by a notorious White Supremacist, Clark Martell. Martell states the sentence above, “Don’t you know that’s exactly what…” and smacks the back of Christian’s head with one hand and snatches the joint from Christian’s lips with the other hand. Christian didn’t exactly know what a Communist or a Jew was or what “docile” meant, but that was the day his recruitment into hate and violence based on race and religion began, and he grows into a violent and well-known leader as well. A good portion of this memoir depicts the details of: shaved heads, tattoos, Doc Marten boots w/white laces, braces (suspenders) and the influence of white-power skinhead concerts and recordings; guns, violence, drinking and indoctrination; snail mail, leaflets, and face-to-face recruiting. This narrative takes place 30 years-ago from today, but all the elements remain the same now, except we have the Internet to recruit members more efficiently. Throughout the story, we see spots where Christian pauses and reflects on the craziness and the violence, but enmeshed as a total believer in maintaining the white race he keeps going. His marriage and the birth of his sons affect him in a positive way, but it took years for him to resign fully from the movement. It is interesting that he was not taught racism by his parents and that outside influences turned him into a White Supremacist. Finally, now, after escaping the Neo-Nazi movement, Christian helps others to leave the movement and the hate behind as well. This book is one element of his good work, and while the violence was difficult for me to read as a mother and an empathetic human, I would encourage other parents to read and learn more about this and share with their children. It is a very sneaky world for a teen to navigate. Your children need your full attention and guidance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    Incredible interesting book that gets into the head of a white Nationalist. Picciolini didn’t come from a family who shared his hate-filled views, but he does share his journey that leads him to become a founding member of a skinhead group at the young age of 14. This book gives insight to what lures young people into such ideologies. You may be asking yourself why would someone want to read such a book? It wasn’t an easy read—a tragic account of hate, violence, pain, and isolation. However, I h Incredible interesting book that gets into the head of a white Nationalist. Picciolini didn’t come from a family who shared his hate-filled views, but he does share his journey that leads him to become a founding member of a skinhead group at the young age of 14. This book gives insight to what lures young people into such ideologies. You may be asking yourself why would someone want to read such a book? It wasn’t an easy read—a tragic account of hate, violence, pain, and isolation. However, I had two reasons for wanting to read this book. First this is a story of redemption, of cognitive self-reflection and awareness. Christina Picciolini is the founder of a nonprofit called Love After Hate. The organizations helps people, who like him, come to realize the enormous cost of being immersed in such a detrimental ideology and wish to transition out of such a life. I do wish he shared more details about the organization and the transition, as the changeover seems to be such a difficult one. Second, after hearing Picciolini’s speak on NPR’s Fresh Air, while driving home from work, I was completely fascinated by the interview. I just had to read his book. I was hoping that reading his story would give me some kind of clarity as to how someone, especially the intelligent, respectful, sensitive, sounding individual I heard coming through my speakers, fell into a life of such hate. I stopped and bought the book before arriving home. I’m certainly not condoning and or advocating White Supremacy, but I do believe in always trying to view issues from another perspective. Only through understanding can we come together, and therefore, I highly recommend this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Dixson

    This book is a great, page-turning read about a young Italian-American man's indoctrination into hateful white supremacy and how he eventually escaped it. While not shocking, it was enlightening to read how similar the hateful things he and his cohorts spouted were to the things preached by the modern-day "alt-right" (ironically, the hatred for Zionists and capitalists, mentioned sporadically, reminded me of the far left, though there's really no left-right parallel to be drawn here). Spoiler-rel This book is a great, page-turning read about a young Italian-American man's indoctrination into hateful white supremacy and how he eventually escaped it. While not shocking, it was enlightening to read how similar the hateful things he and his cohorts spouted were to the things preached by the modern-day "alt-right" (ironically, the hatred for Zionists and capitalists, mentioned sporadically, reminded me of the far left, though there's really no left-right parallel to be drawn here). Spoiler-related themes follow: (view spoiler)[What greatly facilitated his escape was being exposed to the kindness of people who were different from him. While the message of the book definitely isn't as simple as "be nice to Nazis and they'll change," compassion is a big theme when it comes to what allowed Christian's mind to change. (hide spoiler)] I highly recommend this book as it serves as a look into the mind of someone who was vulnerable enough to be corrupted by hateful ideologies. It shows the strategies Neo-Nazis and white supremacists use to bring impressionable young people to their cause and may serve to help lessen its prevalence in the future if the book's warnings are heeded.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Rech

    I heard a radio interview with Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist leader, promoting his book "Breaking Hate." I decided to read his first book, "White American Youth", to better understand his journey into and out of the hate-filled skinhead mentality. This was a fast, easy, fascinating read. It provides insight into who these groups target as recruits, and the power they hold. I'm very much looking forward to "Breaking Hate."!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Wall

    Listened to this on audio read by the author. Highly recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    4.5 stars The ending seemed a little rushed but I seriously couldn't put this book down.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Wow. Completely engrossing and hard to put down. Honest, disturbing, fascinating, raw. A worthwhile read!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Olson

    Super disturbing, but a great look into the scary world of white supremacy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Valeria Vega

    White American Truth A read of White American Youth is exceptionally uncomfortable, in a way that only thought provoking books can be. It makes the reader shift in their seat, look over their shoulder to make sure no one is watching them, and snap the book shut when their blood begins to boil. Admittedly, when taking these attributes of the book at face value, an unflattering picture of the literary merit of this book is created, an assessment that is grossly incorrect. A life of hate, as the one White American Truth A read of White American Youth is exceptionally uncomfortable, in a way that only thought provoking books can be. It makes the reader shift in their seat, look over their shoulder to make sure no one is watching them, and snap the book shut when their blood begins to boil. Admittedly, when taking these attributes of the book at face value, an unflattering picture of the literary merit of this book is created, an assessment that is grossly incorrect. A life of hate, as the one depicted in the book, is a burden to bear and, through his memoir, Christian Picciolini lures the reader in to bear this burden with him, a truly masterful feat. White American Youth provides a strikingly raw portrayal of the white supremacy movement, details the mentality of a conflicted youth, and serves as a warning against the toxicity and inescapable nature of living a life of hate through its masterful incorporation of character development. The most notable aspect of Piccioloni’s memoir is the way in which the structure helps to further the narrative. White American Youth commences by portraying Christian as a young boy who fits very well into societal norms in regards to his beliefs. He is a young, Italian-American boy who despite being bullied for his Italian background holds no resentment in his heart, if anything all he wishes is to fit in. However, cracks in Christian's character began to form as his desire to fit in anywhere lead him to hanging out with teenagers involved in the white supremacy movement, “I followed Martell around and observed his mannerisms. His racial rhetoric sank in too,” (Picciolini, 48). This image of Christian, a young boy who can so easily succumb to hateful rhetoric, begins to warp the reader's perception on a character which they had followed for the entirety of the book up to this point. It makes the reader question everything they thought to be so about Christian, and this uncertainty which the reader feels towards Christian’s change in character is a direct reflection about Christian’s own feelings in regards to his own change. Picciolini continues this motif about instilling in the reader’s emotions which mimic the that of the character but vary in regards to what the emotion is a reaction to as he details the progression of his own change in character. Christian Picciolini states, “Was that because Blue Island was less safe now, I started to wonder, with other races moving in? My new bike had been stolen my black kids, after all, (48). This not only serves as a head-scratching moment for the readers; it also serves as one for Christian. When first confronted with racial rhetoric Christian used the fact that his bike was stolen by a black kid and that he held no ill feelings towards them as a way to dismiss the belief of blacks being inherently bad. However, just a couple of pages further into the narrative Christian uses this same situation as evidence to prove his racial rhetoric as correct. By using the same scenario to justify completely different ideals, Picciolini emphasizes to the reader just how drastically he has changed. This use of structure is nothing short of masterful and it serves as a marvelous starting point for Christian’s character development and his descent into the white supremacy movement. At the forefront of the purpose of this novel lies the desire for Picciolini’s own experiences to serve as a warning tale of what a life of hate entails. Despite the memoir being told through the perspective of Christian while he was involved in the movement, the warning nature of the memoir still shines through as Picciolini uses precise diction and concrete character developments to convey his message in a way that makes the read quite an enjoyable one. When detailing the role of being a leader of the radical Skinhead movement Picciolini states,“People began to consider skinheads racial terrorists. In a way I liked the sound of the word terrorist. The power behind it. But people had it wrong. White-power skinheads were patriots, not terrorists. We were fighting battle other whites whispered about but were too complacent to take up,” (60). The way that Picciolini structures this passage illustrates the toxicity of the radical Skinhead movement. He begins by introducing a very puzzling idea and just two sentences later he rejects the same idea which he previously agreed with. This presentation of the character’s mentality solidifies Christian as a three-dimensional character who could serve as a stand in for any person on the street. The character crafted through just this one passage is just as complex as any person in the living flesh; he possesses core beliefs and contradicts his own thoughts, both which are key characteristics of human beings. Picciolini further elaborates on the toxicity and inescapable nature of the Skinhead movement as he details his own questioning of the morality of the moment. In chapter 21 he states, “Despite my growing reservations about the whole white-power movement, I found it very hard to let go. It had been my entire identity from the age of fourteen, and I still saved my role as a leader.”Once again, Christian’s character is plagued by contradictions. His emotions are palpable and the fear which he exhibits serves to humanize an inhuman character. This proves to be quite an enjoyable movement due to the reader finally beginning to see instances of the “old” Christian shine through his tough exterior. At this point in the story Christian's character arc begins to come full circle rights before the reader's eyes, and for this moment alone the entirety of the book is a must read. Reading the life of a radical Skinhead is nothing short of uncomfortable, in fact it is gut wrenchingly so. But Christian Picciolini provides more than an uncomfortable read, he provides a read that paradoxes the human mind, he provides a book which analyzes human behavior, and which details one of the most beautiful character arcs I have had the pleasure of reading. Yes, this book is uncomfortable to read, the words he uses will make any reader flinch, the portrayal of his mentality will provide the audience with multiple head scratching moments, and the warning he needs are unyielding honest, but all of these are characteristics of the best books. At its core, this book is not exclusively about Piccolino's experience, but about the experiences of any troubled youth. Picture a teenager, perhaps sixteen, who is by no means violent, but through a series of dreadful decisions he becomes involved with a gang. Now picture any other situation which would entail a decent kid getting involved with the wrong group of people, picture the repercussions and you have yourself the foundational narrative of White American Youth, that is the true beauty of this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kerstin Gunia

    I heard the author speak on TED and was intrigued. I wanted the whole story and began to listen to the audio version. While I understand that he wanted to give an authentic retelling of his entering the neo-nazi movement, the word for word profanity laced dialogue did not endear this book to me. The author proved, while speaking at TED, that he can relay his message in a respectful way so I don’t understand why he could not do so in writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mica

    Really wanted to like this. After a while, I became annoyed with his whining. It was disturbing to see how easily he fell into white nationalist thinking. Also, at the end, I didn’t think he demonstrated real growth, just that he kind of grew out of his ways. I was hoping there would be more of the “this mentality and way of thinking is flawed.” But instead it was more that despite going into white nationalism to feel accepted, he came out in the end still desiring that place of belonging.

  22. 4 out of 5

    June Gillam

    Dramatic story of one white man’s pathway to becoming a violent white supremacist yet experiencing his basic human goodness when it was not too late to turn his life around. I plan to require it as reading in the “memoir” unit of the English 1B class I will teach in spring 2021. This book will be useful for students as a model for understanding our culture and even their own places within it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Honestly, I gave up. I believe Christian's story is an important one, but he was right on the edge of joining the White Supremacists and I *just* couldn't go along with him. Maybe someday.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Huggins

    It's been a long time since I've read the afternoon away. This one was hard to put down toward the end. (What happens with Lisa?) This makes 2 books I've read in as many years. I've always loved memoirs. I heard about Christian through his interview with Sam Harris. His story of beating up a kid who shot at him brought tears to my eyes. It was that podcast that prompted me to contribute $20 a month to Sam Harris. I don't always agree with him but he is unafraid to have difficult conversations, w It's been a long time since I've read the afternoon away. This one was hard to put down toward the end. (What happens with Lisa?) This makes 2 books I've read in as many years. I've always loved memoirs. I heard about Christian through his interview with Sam Harris. His story of beating up a kid who shot at him brought tears to my eyes. It was that podcast that prompted me to contribute $20 a month to Sam Harris. I don't always agree with him but he is unafraid to have difficult conversations, which I find valuable. I get to see Christian in person tomorrow. Maybe even meet him. I hope to get my book signed at least. He's speaking at a library 5 miles from my house. I'm even giving up my Sunday afternoon disc golf for it. It's rather confusing to have so much respect for someone who was capable of so much hate. So much VIOLENCE. My god. Yet there must have been something there. Somehow a nice Catholic girl took a skinhead to meet her parents. Somehow an elderly man shooed away news reporters, defending his grandson, "He's a good boy." I'm sure being attractive didn't hurt. I found it hard to tear my eyes away from his in the pictures throughout the book. You can see how his confidence parted the world around him like Moses parting the sea (I'm not a biblical scholar so I don't know how that analogy extrapolates out). Throughout my reading I reflected on the racist thoughts I remember having as a young teen. I grew up in a neighborhood that had Bloods and Cripps (not sure how to spell that) gang activity and I was terrified (even though I never saw any gang members, that I could identify at least.) I remember thinking racism didn't exist and that blacks were just using it as an excuse. Martin Luther King solved all those problems after all. I remember listening to Rammstein. Feeling the comfort of such strength. Wanting to be goth. Dabbling in doodling 88 and Swastikas. It kind of scares me to think how close I could have come to being seduced by all that. But my budding racism was easily swatted away one afternoon after my shift at Village Inn, when I was waiting for my ride home. Two young black men were waiting for a table and I began to get nervous. One of them noticed, approached me and introduced himself as Anthony. That's all it took. Looking back, it astounds me that someone would have the courage to walk up to someone, knowing full well what's prompting the suspicion, and taking it upon themselves to put that person at ease. This book is a beautiful homage to the people he loves, especially his brother. I hope Christian finds the atonement his is looking for. He's got at least one reader who sees the angry white American youth with a little more empathy. This is one reader who will help promote more kindness in a world that is starved for it. One of my favorite passages: "One of the more hilarious instances of police harassment occurred when I was pulled over by a state trooper while driving home from a get-together in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon searching my vehicle, behind my driver's seat, the officer uncovered a wooden coffee table leg with a long, pointy lag bolt sticking out horizontally from its end. "What's this for, son? Do you intend to use this as a weapon for your Aryan revolution?" "No, sir, officer," I replied. "I intend to add it to my three-legged coffee table as soon as I get home. I'm getting tired of it tipping over every time I put my copy of Mein Kampf on it. Even he couldn't help but laugh at that."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bard

    ‘Relatable’ is not a word that I ever imagined myself using to describe a biography of a kid who became a Nazi skinhead at 14. But Christian Picciolini’s autobiography was honest, powerful, and, dare I say, relatable. My life couldn’t have been more different from his, having had an exceptionally stable youth as a nice Jewish boy from a white collar, upper middle class family, who never thought of rebellion. But we’ve all experienced insecurity, loneliness, social isolation, and frustration abou ‘Relatable’ is not a word that I ever imagined myself using to describe a biography of a kid who became a Nazi skinhead at 14. But Christian Picciolini’s autobiography was honest, powerful, and, dare I say, relatable. My life couldn’t have been more different from his, having had an exceptionally stable youth as a nice Jewish boy from a white collar, upper middle class family, who never thought of rebellion. But we’ve all experienced insecurity, loneliness, social isolation, and frustration about the outside world, and the desire to be popular, loved, idolized, or even feared. It’s no stretch to suggest that at certain times in my life, if I had been approached by someone offering friendship and an outlet for my frustrations, I could have loosened my convictions for that promise. Picciolini lays bare his thought process and his feelings in his description of how he fell into becoming a Nazi skinhead and how he justified his beliefs during his time in that community. In doing so, he makes an extraordinarily powerful argument that you don’t have to be a monster to become evil, and you don’t have to be a saint to become good. This is key for anyone who wants to make the world a better place by cutting down on hate—Picciolini makes clear that being shouted at by protestors no more convinced him to get out of his life of hate than Nazi rallies convince normal people like you and I to become Nazis. What did convince him was the act of being forced to form real relationships with different kinds of people as he was trying to run a business. This, combined with some rapid changes and difficulties in his personal life, made him realize that he alone was responsible for both ruining and fixing his own life. Thus, if your goal is to eliminate hate from someone’s heart, you can’t do that by projecting hate onto them. You have to take the incredibly difficult step of projecting humanity into them. Parallel to being a powerful treatise on how to end cycles of hate, this book is also a deeply moving account of a young man’s life, his missteps, his triumphs, his atrocities, and his salvation, with a truly devastating gut punch at the end to remind the reader (and, of course, the author every day of his life) that you can never change your past and the consequences of your actions, but you can fix your future. One of the hardest things to do is to humanize people who have done evil. There are those who would argue that it’s not worth it, or even detrimental. But I would ask anybody who holds that belief to read White American Youth with an open mind. As somebody who has been both a Nazi Skinhead and a tireless warrior for peace, understanding, and multiculturalism, Christian Picciolini has a unique perspective that precious few of us are (un)lucky enough to have. We should benefit from listening. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Troubled youth trying to fit in, joins a hate group. Turns his life around when his family situation changes. Ok.......

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marcella Wigg

    Christian Picciolini spent seven years, from ages 14 to 21, in the neo-Nazi Skinhead movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. White American Youth is his account of his descent into the center of the White Power Skinhead movement in Illinois, and his eventual decision to leave the movement. Ironically, Picciolini's own family would not have been considered "white" by many white Americans until relatively recently, as he was the child of first-generation Italian immigrants. His initial identif Christian Picciolini spent seven years, from ages 14 to 21, in the neo-Nazi Skinhead movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. White American Youth is his account of his descent into the center of the White Power Skinhead movement in Illinois, and his eventual decision to leave the movement. Ironically, Picciolini's own family would not have been considered "white" by many white Americans until relatively recently, as he was the child of first-generation Italian immigrants. His initial identification with the White Power movement began with the older young men he idealized as an adolescent and continued until he was a young father running a record store and encountering people who challenged his bigotry by continuing to civilly interact with him despite his racism. Over time, he became more violent and openly radical until he got expelled from multiple high schools for his beatings, racial slurs, and acts of vandalism. A desire to propagandize more people inspired him to form his own White Power Skinhead band, White American Youth. I thought this book was decent; Picciolini at least admits he was bloodthirsty and violent, multiple times sending people to the hospital. It would have been better had he offered more detail about his psychological shift and his ideology before and after leaving the movement--we see his anger and hatred, but beyond that, he was somewhat vague about the logical ways his ideology shifted and I would have liked to hear more about it. I would also have enjoyed hearing more specifically about his work transitioning others out of hatred. Did he cover his tattoos? How does he talk to those who are leaving hate groups, and what steps do they take to detransition? The introspection was somewhat limited. Still interesting, though.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Let me start by saying, I'm so incredibly glad I stuck this book out. Such a well written and thought provoking read. I initially struggled and found myself putting it down in order to start other books that I was more engaged with. I understood the need to build the back story in order to better understand how one falls in to these sort of beliefs so wholeheartedly; but, it felt very whiny and self-pitying. I actually found myself feeling almost angry at times. Angry that someone would take the Let me start by saying, I'm so incredibly glad I stuck this book out. Such a well written and thought provoking read. I initially struggled and found myself putting it down in order to start other books that I was more engaged with. I understood the need to build the back story in order to better understand how one falls in to these sort of beliefs so wholeheartedly; but, it felt very whiny and self-pitying. I actually found myself feeling almost angry at times. Angry that someone would take the circumstances of their life and use them as excuses to hate, when there are so many who endure painful lives and upbringings and use them as motivation to better the world. Angry that someone could be so blind to reality to actually believe the Holocaust was made up by the Jewish people as a means of propaganda. I couldn't identify with someone like this. I honestly only continued on reading because it was the only book I had on hand during my lunch break at work. The more I read though, the more I understood how it was possible for someone to feel so lost and so full of fear. I understood how those feelings can drive someone to cling to whatever sense of meaning they can find. I understood how exposures to kindness can drive out the hate that takes root in people. And most importantly, I understood that even the anger I had felt towards the author in the first few chapters was a form of hate predicated on someone's beliefs differing from my own. A wonderful reminder of the importance of practicing acceptance, kindness, and compassion towards people from every walk of life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ilib4kids

    B PICCIOLINI eAudio White American Youth: WAY for short, the band name author created. Author left the white-power movement in 1995. co-founded Life After Hate in 2009. White nationalist White supremacy. White supremacist movement Fourteen words: We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. pxxiv I write this book with optimism that my cautionary tale will help others to search for identity, belongs, and purpose in healthy, inclusive communities and will have strength to B PICCIOLINI eAudio White American Youth: WAY for short, the band name author created. Author left the white-power movement in 1995. co-founded Life After Hate in 2009. White nationalist White supremacy. White supremacist movement Fourteen words: We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. pxxiv I write this book with optimism that my cautionary tale will help others to search for identity, belongs, and purpose in healthy, inclusive communities and will have strength to walk away from empty promises, , and that people will listen to those who encourage them to be compassionate human beings instead of finding a place among those who prey on the insecure and exploit their loneliness, fear, confusion and felling of worthlessness. p266 What becomes of the human race is everyone's responsibility, and when one of us fails, we all do. When one of us refuses to be part of what is wrong with the world, the world becomes brighter for all of us. .. to recognize that and to honor it in my actions and decisions... to be part of the good in the world, part of evergrowing community that seeks fairness, justice, and compassion. The Turner Diaries 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce, published under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald". The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the federal government, nuclear war, and, ultimately, a race war. All groups opposed by the author, such as Jews, gays, and non-whites, are exterminated.[2] The book was described as "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled a "bible of the racist right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. as “probably the most widely-read book among far-right extremists. wetback 湿背人(从墨西哥到美国的移民,尤指非法入境者)an offensive word for a Mexican person, especially one who enters the US illegally muds: refer to blacks and Mexicans, Jews , etc. basically non-white people. there goes the neighbors: It's usually said when the speaker acquires a new neighbor they don't approve of for whatever reason.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cara Hinton

    After hearing Christian Picciolini speak, it was great to read this book and see where things went wrong in his life. It is wonderful that he has used his life since getting out of the Hate Movement to try and help others get out and see the pointlessness of hatred. Not everyone gets out alive, or at all, so the fact that he is alive, has changed his life and focused on helping others is a true testament to his truly believing that racism/hatred is a terrible plague on our society. Isn't this th After hearing Christian Picciolini speak, it was great to read this book and see where things went wrong in his life. It is wonderful that he has used his life since getting out of the Hate Movement to try and help others get out and see the pointlessness of hatred. Not everyone gets out alive, or at all, so the fact that he is alive, has changed his life and focused on helping others is a true testament to his truly believing that racism/hatred is a terrible plague on our society. Isn't this the result we all wish for, that people see the error of their ways and not only change themselves, but help others to find love for all humanity? When I heard him speak on "Racism, Color Outside the Lines" I found someone who has love for everyone and not only totally understands the destruction he caused but wants to do all he can to repent for those years of acting on his hate. His experience is really no different than anyone who falls into a cult: gangs, the mob, religious organizations, etc. He was vulnerable and lost and someone preyed on that. We need to educate our youth to believe in themselves and have confidence so they are not as susceptible to this kind of life. I am very glad I read this and now know more of his story!

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