The Influencing Machine

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A visionary and opinionated work of graphic nonfiction on the media and its discontents. Nearly one million weekly listeners trust NPR’s Brooke Gladstone to guide them through the distortions and complexities of the modern media. This brilliant radio personality now bursts onto the page as an illustrated character in vivid comics drawn by acclaimed artist Josh Neufeld. The cartoon of Brooke conducts the reader through two millennia of history — from the newspapers in Caesar’s Rome to the penny press of the American Revolution and the manipulations of contemporary journalism.

Now available in an updated, 10th-anniversary edition, as well as the original hardcover and paperback editions. Also available in French, German, Italian, and Korean editions.

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Description

Featured by the New Yorker, Newsweek, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, the Miami Herald, the Atlantic, The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review, Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, BoingBoing, and many others! NOW AVAILABLE IN A 10th-ANNIVERSARY EDITION, UPDATED AND WITH A NEW AFTERWORD.

The Influencing Machine is a collaboration with journalist Brooke Gladstone, co-host of the syndicated weekly radio show On the Media (produced by WNYC and distributed by NPR). Publisher W.W. Norton calls The Influencing Machine, “a visionary and opinionated work of graphic nonfiction on the media and its discontents. It debunks the notion that ‘The Media’ is an external force, outside of our control, equipping us to be savvy consumers and shapers of the news.”

The new edition brings the story up to date, striving to reckon with the impact of Donald Trump — without having him hijack the narrative. The book features changes to text and art, touching on the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, and includes a new afterword that addresses the rise of social media, and the public’s responsibility in a time of division and disinformation.

The Associated Press wrote of The Influencing Machine, “what makes the book so notable is its style. It’s presented almost entirely in drawings, like a textbook in comic-book or graphic-novel form. . . . It’s easy to imagine The Influencing Machine becoming mandatory reading in journalism classes around the country.”

Publishers Weekly and the Library Journal both declared The Influencing Machine to be one of the best comics/graphic novels of 2011. In addition, The Influencing Machine has been listed on a number of 2011 holiday gift guides, including New York Magazine and BoingBoing. It was selected for 1book140, The Atlantic.com’s Reading Club.

In addition, the book was a “Common Read” selection at the University of Maryland, Wichita State University, and Johnson County Community College, among others.

Samples and excerpts:

Since its publication, The Influencing Machine has been translated into French, Italian, German, and Korean.

Praise for The Influencing Machine:

“This is a comic book with zest and brains — and it just might help a reader understand the brave new world.”
The New Yorker
“. . . What makes the book so notable is its style. It’s presented almost entirely in drawings, like a textbook in comic-book or graphic-novel form. . . . It’s easy to imagine The Influencing Machine becoming mandatory reading in journalism classes around the country.”
— Associated Press
“. . . mind-opening, thought-provoking, and incredibly timely. . . . [A]n absolutely spectacular read: serious without being weighty, accessible without being thin. It’s one of those graphic nonfiction volumes, like Understanding Comics, that shows just how well suited comics are to explaining and exploring serious subjects.”
BoingBoing
The Influencing Machine is so remarkable that it is hard to describe. The best I can do is: it’s a book about the history and current controversies of the media, all done as a Spiegelman-style comic-strip narrative. Brooke herself (or at least an avatar) leads you through it all, and her ‘voice’ — well known after her years as host of NPR’s On the Media — comes through loud and clear, thanks to Josh Neufeld’s witty drawings. I learned a lot, including a lot that I should have known already, and enjoyed every minute.”
— Michael Kinsley
“. . . Often brilliant and always thought-provoking. . . . [T]he main reason the book flows so well and delivers its ideas so efficiently is related to Neufeld’s contributions. Avoiding the easy laughs achieved by outlandish caricatures of historical figures, Neufeld likewise achieves an approach to storytelling that’s always smart but never descends into mere (and annoying) cleverness. Employing an understated style that doesn’t try to draw attention to itself but instead always works in concert with his collaborator’s prose, he helps create what is a truly multimodal text with the artwork working on a parallel, if clearly complementary, track to the print. . . . At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s also Neufeld’s engaging visual explication of its ideas that make the book so accessible to what is potentially a wide range of audiences.”
— Graphic Novel Reporter
“A first-rate comics manifesto. The Influencing Machine has influenced me to think much more deeply about the media landscape we live in. Gladstone and Neufeld can show and tell with the best of ’em.”
— Scott McCloud
“. . . A rollicking and rambling tour of the historical role of the media and its relationship to people and politics. . . . [Begs] second and third readings to absorb and enjoy all the information and droll asides.”
— Miami Herald
“Gladstone . . . and noted illustrator Neufeld . . . make a formidable pair in this fascinating history of media’s influence.”
— Publishers Weekly
“It’s the kind of graphic novel that demands repeated readings and dog-eared pages of relevant facts. It’s the kind of book that should be in the hands of every high school student as a primer in the way minds and citizenry function in the free-for-all called American-style democracy, and how that ties in with the vast march of human perception.”
— North Adams Transcript
The Influencing Machine is more than graphic nonfiction. It’s a media studies course in itself.”
— Cartoon Movement
“. . . This analysis of contemporary journalism is as incisive as it is entertaining, while offering a lesson on good citizenship through savvy media consumption.”
— Kirkus (Starred Review)

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 7 × 75 × 9 in
Edition

Hardcover, Paperback, Anniversary edition, French, Italian, German, Korean

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