Christian Picciolini was born in the Blue Island neighborhood of Chicago, where he was radicalized at the age of fourteen and went on to become the leader of the notorious Chicago Hammerskins, one of the most violent hate groups in America, and the singer of two white power propaganda punk bands. After leaving the hate movement when he was nineteen years old, Picciolini began the painstaking process of rebuilding his life. He went on to earn a degree in International Business and International Relations from DePaul University and launch an entertainment and media firm. In 2010, he co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping communities and organizations gain the knowledge necessary to implement long-term solutions that counter all types of racism and violent extremism.
"White American Youth takes the reader into the depths of
the hate movement and sheds a valuable light on the mindset of
those who can be lured into this dark world. Christian's
astonishing change of heart is a testament to our endless capacity
for personal transformation."--Lonnie Nasatir, regional director,
"Christian's journey exemplifies how hate and violence are unsustainable, and tolerance, forgiveness, and love are the only ways forward. If Christian can change, there is hope for all humankind--a compelling and extraordinary story."
--Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival
"Like a skinhead Goodfellas, White American Youth takes us along on a young man's journey to the dark heart of a distasteful organization, somehow making the narrator's descent every bit as understandable and compelling--and all the more tragic. It's a powerful and moving memoir that brought tears to my eyes."
--Gerald Brennan, author of Resistance, Zero Phase, and Public Loneliness
"If it's disturbingly easy to embrace the white power ideology, it's not as easy to leave behind. Christian's experiences in White American Youth will shock you, but it's his escape and transformation that will inspire. His honest, often brutal memoir charts a journey from hopelessness to redemption. A profoundly important book, and a riveting read."
--John Horgan, author of The Psychology of Terrorism
"Chilling...What we have in Christian Picciolini is something of an informant. He asks us to understand, yes, but not with the intention to excuse--rather the hope to dismantle. He is an unabashed truth-teller, and a willing weapon against hate and bigotry all over the world."--Rooster Magazine
"Fascinating and timely....Written with first-hand knowledge and authority...White American Youth not only tells Picciolini's gripping story, but it is filled with rare insights that put today's rise of white nationalism in perspective."
--Ali Soufan, former FBI special agent and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda
"Simultaneously horrifying and redemptive."--AlterNet
"Describes the importance of empathy--how receiving it from others at a time when [Picciolini] felt he least deserved it was lifesaving, helping to pull him out of extremism."
--New York Times Book Review
"Christian Picciolini offers a vivid illustration of the path to extremism...a strange, toxic inversion of the American Dream."--New York Review of Books