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Making Sense of the Alt-Right, George Hawley

Reviewed by Paul James Pope

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The 2016 presidential election shattered the idea of what a normal election looks like. Donald Trump was ushered into the presidency on a wave of right-wing populism in which white nationalism played a supporting but not insignificant role. In George Hawley's book Making Sense of the Alt-Right, he probes deep into understanding the origins and rise of the alt-right and its influence on the 2016 election. Hawley adeptly navigates the distinction between mainstream conservatism and the radical right, which carved out a niche for the mostly anonymous alt-right movement.

Hawley begins his illustration of the alt-rights by defining its goals and ideology. “At its core, the Alt-Right is a white-nationalist movement, even if many (perhaps most) of the people who identify with the Alt-Right do not care for that term” (p. 11). Though the media popularized the alt-right during the 2016 election, Hawley lays bare the group's racist genealogy with other predecessor white nationalist and white supremacist groups. Though Hawley uses the term “white nationalist” to describe the alt-right throughout the book, he acknowledges that “white-nationalism was a term invented to make white-supremacist views more palatable” (p. 13). Hawley clarifies how the alt-right and their message were made more appetizing to a broader audience o

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