The Boy Who Could Change the World

The Writings of Aaron Swartz

A posthumous collection of writing by Aaron Swartz, the computer genius and Internet hacktivist whose tragic suicide shook the world

“He was brilliant and funny. A kid genius. . . . Aaron was not just, or even primarily, a computer geek. His defining feature was a constant struggle for what he believed was right.” —Lawrence Lessig

Winner, Studs and Ida Terkel Prize

In his too-short life, Aaron Swartz reshaped the Internet, questioned our assumptions about intellectual property, and touched all of us in ways that we may not even realize. His tragic suicide in 2013 at the age of twenty-six after being aggressively prosecuted for downloading materials off the JSTOR database shocked the nation and the world.

Here for the first time in print is revealed the quintessential Aaron Swartz: besides being a technical genius and a passionate activist, he was also an insightful, compelling, and cutting essayist. With a technical understanding of the Internet and of intellectual property law surpassing that of many seasoned professionals, he wrote thoughtfully and humorously about intellectual property, copyright, and the architecture of the Internet. He wrote as well about unexpected topics such as pop culture, politics both electoral and idealistic, media and journalism, and education. Including two in-depth and previously unpublished essays about education and congressional politics, The Boy Who Could Change the World contains the life’s work of one of the most original minds of our time.


“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so.”
—Cory Doctorow
“We’ve lost a fighter. We’ve lost somebody who put huge energy into righting wrongs.”
—Sir Tim Berners-Lee
“For me, reading this book was a revelatory experience.”
—Chelsea Manning
“I always found it genuinely inspiring to watch Swartz exude [his] courage and commitment at such a young age.”
—Glenn Greenwald
“What a bittersweet exhilaration you feel rereading Swartz’s impossibly brilliant, capacious writings all in one place. This volume makes clear what those of us who knew Aaron already grasped: when we lost Aaron, we lost one of the most exciting minds of our time.”
—Chris Hayes
“The book’s curated tour of Swartz’s legacy reads less like a posthumous time capsule and more like the record of one mind thinking, beautifully, against itself.”
The Nation

News and Reviews

The Guardian

The Guardian reviews The Boy Who Could Change the World

The New Republic

Malcolm Harris from The New Republic reviews The Boy Who Could Change the World.


Salon writes about The Boy Who Could Change the World.


Mark Karlin from Truthout interviews Mako Hill about The Boy Who Could Change the World.


Goodreads Reviews