Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World
A finalist for the 2023 National Book Critics Circle Award
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | National Indie Bestseller
A New York Times notable book of 2023 | Vulture’s #1 book of 2023
One of Slate’s ten best books of 2023 | A Guardian best ideas book of 2023 | One of Time’s ten best books of 2023
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award
“I’ve been raving about Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger . . . I can’t think of another text that better captures the berserk period we’re living through.” —Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times
“If I had to name a single book that makes sense of these last few dark years, it would be this one.” —Katie Roiphe, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“If ever a book was necessary, it’s this one.” —Bill McKibben
“Thoughtful and honest . . . Incisive . . . Klein moves her reader toward the truer grounds of solidarity in these times.” —Judith Butler
What if you woke up one morning and found you’d acquired another self—a double who was almost you and yet not you at all? What if that double shared many of your preoccupations but, in a twisted, upside-down way, furthered the very causes you’d devoted your life to fighting against?
Not long ago, the celebrated activist and public intellectual Naomi Klein had just such an experience—she was confronted with a doppelganger whose views she found abhorrent but whose name and public persona were sufficiently similar to her own that many people got confused about who was who. Destabilized, she lost her bearings, until she began to understand the experience as one manifestation of a strangeness many of us have come to know but struggle to define: AI-generated text is blurring the line between genuine and spurious communication; New Age wellness entrepreneurs turned anti-vaxxers are scrambling familiar political allegiances of left and right; and liberal democracies are teetering on the edge of absurdist authoritarianism, even as the oceans rise. Under such conditions, reality itself seems to have become unmoored. Is there a cure for our moment of collective vertigo?
Naomi Klein is one of our most trenchant and influential social critics, an essential analyst of what branding, austerity, and climate profiteering have done to our societies and souls. Here she turns her gaze inward to our psychic landscapes, and outward to the possibilities for building hope amid intersecting economic, medical, and political crises. With the assistance of Sigmund Freud, Jordan Peele, Alfred Hitchcock, and bell hooks, among other accomplices, Klein uses wry humor and a keen sense of the ridiculous to face the strange doubles that haunt us—and that have come to feel as intimate and proximate as a warped reflection in the mirror.
Combining comic memoir with chilling reportage and cobweb-clearing analysis, Klein seeks to smash that mirror and chart a path beyond despair. Doppelganger asks: What do we neglect as we polish and perfect our digital reflections? Is it possible to dispose of our doubles and overcome the pathologies of a culture of multiplication? Can we create a politics of collective care and undertake a true reckoning with historical crimes? The result is a revelatory treatment of the way many of us think and feel now—and an intellectual adventure story for our times.
Praise for Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World
"I’ve been raving about Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger . . . I can’t think of another text that better captures the berserk period we’re living through." —Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times
“No recent book has better captured the absurdities and perils of the current moment in politics and culture and digital life than Doppelganger.” —Vulture
"Dazzling and erudite . . . A deft and intricate investigation of online culture and political doubling . . . On her highbrow romp through this disturbing underworld, Klein’s writing is clear, dynamic, ruthlessly honest, imbued with a rare integrity . . . Doppelganger showcases [Klein's] superb ability to cut through clichés and received ideas, as well as intellectual conventions . . . One of the great pleasures of the book is watching her mind synthesize this confounding and volatile political moment with such originality and verve . . . There is a drama and stylishness to her inquiry that is hard to resist. By deploying the idiom of psychological thrillers, she infuses energy into her often dense or theoretical material . . . Almost no other writer could pull [it] off. If I had to name a single book that makes sense of these last few dark years, it would be this one." —Katie Roiphe, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
“Doppelganger is an in-depth critique of what late-stage capitalism hath wrought. But it’s also much more. Klein wields her polymathic expertise like a sword, slicing through the mirror world . . . There’s a lot going on in Doppelganger, yet somehow Klein ties it all together into what we seem to be lacking as individuals: a cohesive whole. Doppelganger is both timely and timeless, a work in a grand tradition.” —Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times
“A compelling and far-reaching political detective story . . . Especially when it comes to the political fallout from the pandemic, no other book I know of has been this intellectually adventurous, this loopily personal, or this entertaining . . . As a writer and a theorist, Klein is particularly talented at knitting together the sweep of history and the banalities of the present. She’s equally attuned to what doppelgängers can mean in a more transhistorical sense . . . Following her mystifying doppelgänger down her many rabbit holes has unleashed Klein as a writer . . . The originality and political courage of this book is to turn that into an opening, an entirely different way of thinking about our enemies—and ourselves.” —Laura Kipnis, The Nation
"Insightful . . . [Doppelganger is] the most introspective and whimsical of Klein’s books to date, but it is also one of surprising insights, unexpected connections and great subtlety." —William Davies, The Guardian
"For nearly a quarter century, Klein’s work has offered clarifying conceptual frameworks to understand the workings of power . . . [Klein] has a canny knack for capturing the zeitgeist, crystalizing ideas attuned to a given historical moment that serve to galvanize activists as much as scholars." —Nico Baumbach, Bookforum
"[Doppelganger is] a very, very good book. The premise . . . An ambitious, wide-ranging exploration of this very frightening moment of polycrisis and systemic failure . . .Klein has produced a first-rate literary work just as much as this is a superb philosophical and political tome . . . An essential read." —Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic
“This story of mistaken identity would on its own be gripping and revealing enough, both as a psychological study and for its explorations of the double in art and history, the disorienting effects of social media, and the queasy feeling of looking into a distorted mirror. But the larger subject of Doppelganger turns out to be a far more complex and consequential confusion . . . A uniquely astute account of the scrambled political formations that have come out of the pandemic.” —Laura Marsh, The New Republic
"[Klein] is famous for the calm and poise with which she mainstreams a clear, solidly leftist political-economic critique . . . Doppelganger is both more literary and more personal than Klein’s other books. She reads Freud and Poe and Ursula Le Guin and Dostoevsky . . . Klein’s purpose is to use her doppelganger adventures as ‘a narrow aperture’ into [. . .] an alternative-media ecosystem." —Jenny Turner, London Review of Books
"[Doppelganger] stands alongside Klein's bestsellers No Logo and The Shock Doctrine as a crucial study of the ways that identity, image, ideology and economics become intertwined in the bewildering conditions of 21st-century consumer capitalism, and is in many ways a subtler and more challenging work than either of those." —Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
"[A] brave new book . . . By the end [of Doppelganger], I wondered if maybe Klein had come closer than ever to cracking the code that reveals what, really, is at the heart of our collective dysfunction . . . Klein brings her analytical prowess and keen wit to an exploration of the concept of doubles . . . [She] blends the personal and the political so seamlessly that it’s hard to imagine they could ever be apart." —Bill Lueders, The Progressive
"[A] striking meditation . . . Klein’s writing is perceptive and intriguingly personal . . . By articulating such an expansive view of the uncanny, Klein's mesmerizing narrative reflects the unique anxieties and modes of analysis that have come to dominate the online era. Like Klein’s previous books, it’s a definitive signpost of the times." —Publishers Weekly
"Klein’s prose is tight and urgent . . . evoking both laughter and dismay and entrancingly matching the mounting frenzy of seeing your public self morph into someone else . . . [Klein's] comprehensive and nuanced treatments of these issues are valuable and compelling . . . A disarming and addictive call to solidarity." —Kirkus Reviews
"[Naomi Klein's] provocative thought exercise illuminates the myriad ways taken-for-granted balances can be upended and calls for heightened awareness of the dangers of identity erosion on both large and small scales." —Booklist (starred review)
“It seems ever more possible that our society might collapse under the sheer weight of nonsense and performance and crazy misinformation that overwhelm our infoworld. With her trademark clarity and perception, and with chemo-level doses of wit and common sense, Naomi Klein goes further than anyone has so far in helping us understand that buzzing and confounding mess, and to see some ways out. If ever a book was necessary, it’s this one.” —Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon and Falter
“Naomi Klein’s thoughtful and honest inquiry into the troubling duplication of her name and the distorted appropriation of her views becomes the occasion for an incisive account of how the Right has appropriated Left discourses, producing a nightmarish doubling that has plunged some of us into silence. Klein moves her reader toward the truer grounds of solidarity in these times, showing us how to resist the lures of Fascism with militant humility and connection, letting ourselves be upended by what we thought we could not bear to see so that we can face and build an affirmative future.” —Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble and The Force of Nonviolence
"Naomi Klein never disappoints. Doppelganger swirls through the bewildering ideas of the ultra-right that often appear as a distorted mirror of left struggle and strategy. With her always incisive analysis of the systems and structures linked to global capitalism, Klein now fiercely and brilliantly urges that our justice movements be prepared to follow the quest for new meaning into dimensions where we might least expect to find it: in injury and vulnerability." —Angela Y. Davis, author of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
"If you want to make sense of a world upside-down, this staggering masterpiece will show you how—and then it blazes a path to a more loving and caring future.” —V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of Reckoning and The Vagina Monologues
“Naomi Klein is one of our most important intellectuals, distilling the political economies of corruption and crisis in our time. Here she plunges into the topsy-turvy world of doubles and mirrors to show that the growth of the right is not a case of malignancies infecting our otherwise pure societies; rather, it’s a matter of our own fears, insecurities, and defense mechanisms, all of them rooted in a savagely unequal and violent society. Klein writes with humor, enormous bravery, and humbling vulnerability. This is an extraordinary book.” —Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
“Once a decade, Naomi Klein writes a book that prompts us to completely rethink the moment we’re in. Doppelganger helps us to understand, in a deep and tectonic way, why our society is becoming unrecognizable to us—and why so many people we know are changing in disturbing ways. It’s a book about going down a rabbit hole that becomes about the nature of the rabbit hole itself. If you want to understand where we are now—and how to find our way back to sanity—you have to read this totally brilliant book.” —Johann Hari, author of Stolen Focus
“This book is as foreboding as a guide through the maze of mirrors of the modern right should be. But it’s not only that: Naomi Klein has made Doppelganger gripping and scintillating, too. The result is a reckoning with the present moment that’s as insightful as all of Klein’s indispensable work, and as suspenseful as a novel.” —China Miéville, author of The City & The City and A Spectre, Haunting: On "The Communist Manifesto"
"A dazzling, hallucinatory tour de force that takes the reader through shadow selves and global fascism, leaving them gasping by the end." —Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood
“Naomi Klein’s books have been building one on the next to create a powerful cognitive mapping of our time. This new book takes a personal turn, then opens out into an analysis of our shared global dilemma that is as incisive and fascinating as anything she has ever written—which is saying a lot. As always, my first thought on finishing one of her books is Thank you.” —Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Ministry for the Future
"I finished this book and nearly cried with relief. Klein gave me the gift of being calm. She explores and diagnoses with empathy, warmth and searing precision the confusion and utter madness of what it is to be alive right now. This is a big book with big ideas which poses the most direct questions for our times. Everyone needs to read it as a matter of urgency." —Sheena Patel, author of I'm a Fan