A superb chronicle, long—but no longer than needed—and detailed, that sheds light on how the war on terror is being waged...

DAYS OF RAGE

AMERICA’S RADICAL UNDERGROUND, THE FBI, AND THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE

A stirring history of that bad time, 45-odd years ago, when we didn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing, though we knew it was loud.

The 1970s, writes Vanity Fair special correspondent Burrough (The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, 2009, etc.), saw something unknown since the American Revolution: a group of radical leftists forming “an underground resistance movement” that, as his subtitle notes, is all but forgotten today. The statistics are daunting and astonishing: In 1971 and 1972, the FBI recorded more than 2,500 bombings, only 1 percent of which led to a fatality. In contrast to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, which killed 168 people, the “single deadliest radical-underground attack of the decade killed four people.” The FBI, of course, took this very seriously. As Burrough records, it embarked on a campaign of infiltration and interdiction that soon overstepped its bounds, legally speaking. The author takes a deep look into this history on both sides, interviewing veterans of the underground on one hand and of the FBI on the other. He traces the bombing campaign back to the man he deems a “kind of Patient Zero for the underground groups of the 1970s,” who began seeding Manhattan with bombs in the year of Woodstock and provided a blueprint for radicals right and left ever since. It is clear that the FBI has Burrough’s sympathy; after all, many of those who went underground got off lightly, while overly zealous federal agents (the man who would later be unmasked as Watergate’s Deep Throat among them) were prosecuted. The author’s history is thoroughgoing and fascinating, though with a couple of curious notes—e.g., the likening of the Weathermen et al. to the Nazi Werewolf guerrillas “who briefly attempted to resist Allied forces after the end of World War II.”

A superb chronicle, long—but no longer than needed—and detailed, that sheds light on how the war on terror is being waged today.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59420-429-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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