top of page

*Winner, 2024 Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize, New England American Studies Association*

"In We the Dead, Brian Michael Murphy takes us on a simultaneously breathtaking and explosive tour of the various archives and databases that hold our records, and the human subjects they document, in suspension between life and death.”

—Shannon Mattern, Presidential Penn Compact Professor of Media Studies, University of Pennsylvania

"We the Dead is the rare book that opens new lines of investigation while also entertaining and provoking the reader. Some of the historical case studies that Brian Murphy unearthed (gas chambers for rare books! durable metal film strips! atomic bomb–tested filing cabinets!) were so outrageous and profound that I found myself laughing out loud while reading. It was a shock of recognition. . . . We are already the dead of the book’s title, whether we like it or not.”

—Brian Hochman, Hubert J. Cloke Director of American Studies and Professor of American Studies and English, Georgetown University

We the Dead Cover.jpeg

"Murphy's book excavates - at times, quite literally - the digital world of data preservation beneath our feet and in our archives, mountains, and even abandoned malls. We are thrilled to award this piece of important, cutting edge scholarship."

--Awards Committee, New England American Studies Association

“Provocative...Murphy is a witty writer – and a “media archaeologist”! – who travels deep underground to see for himself the weirdest and most fanatical efforts to preserve records...an engaging tour of the crises that propelled each new wave of preservation anxiety and the attendant technological advancements – from time capsules to wax cylinders to DNA-based memory chips.” 

—Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World

"This thought-provoking, often revelatory book is highly recommended for college and university libraries as well as for supplemental reading lists for graduate students in information science—and cultural studies, specifically cultural anthropology. It provides a context for the work of librarians that lends depth and—sometimes frightening—context to their work."—Jeffrey Garrett, College & Research Libraries

“Well written, thoughtful, and provocative. We the Dead is intellectually engaging and fascinating—I can honestly think of very few books like it.”—Tung-Hui Hu, author of A Prehistory of the Cloud

bottom of page