BAYA Book Review

True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News by Cindy L. Otis

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Otis, Cindy L. True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News. Feiwel and Friends Book, 2020. 313p. ISBN: 9781250239495. $19.99. HS, OT ****

The book cover of True or False: A CIA Analyst's Guide to Spotting Fake News.
True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News, GoodReads.com

True or False is an easy-to-digest nonfiction look at fake news, how to spot modern fake news, and what the reader can do about it. The first half of the book looks at fake news in a historical perspective, starting with Jack the Ripper and ending with Pizzagate. Each example reveals who started the fake news, who furthered the news, and how it impacted society at the time. The second half reviews how to determine fact from opinion, individual bias, media bias, spotting fake news articles, polling, fake photos and video, spotting fake news on social media, and how to investigate breaking news as it is happening. 

The examples for each section are well explained and provide historical documents to back up claims. Once more modern examples come into play, the author provides screen captures from the internet. It is incredible how much influence each instance of “mainstream” fake news had on individuals and the financial gains the instigators were able to obtain. 

I highly recommend this book to teens wanting to know more about fake news and/or who are just interested in the spread of rumors and far fetched tales. 

The reading level for this book would make it accessible to students as early as 7th grade, though the content and concepts mentioned, while easily researched online and mostly public knowledge to anyone paying attention, are not the most savory for younger readers. This book should be considered for any students 10th grade and up. High School English, Political Science, and Journalism teachers should all consider this book for curriculum and discussion. The second portion of the book does include short observation activities that could encourage students to write in their copies, so offer photocopies of these short sections if you plan to distribute copies over several years.

-Jessica Lundin, San Jose Public Library

Tags: Nonfiction, Fake News

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