A National Book Award Longlist
An O, The Oprah Magazine Best Book
The Simulmatics Corporation, launched during the Cold War, mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. Jill Lepore came across the company's papers in MIT's archives and set out to tell this forgotten history, the long-lost backstory to the methods, and the arrogance, of Silicon Valley. The scientists of Simulmatics created a world in which corporations collect data and model behavior and target messages about the most ordinary of decisions. If Then is its cautionary tale.