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Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence Paperback – Illustrated, April 5 2016
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From the bestselling author of Public Enemies and The Big Rich, an explosive account of the decade-long battle between the FBI and the homegrown revolutionary movements of the 1970s
The Weathermen. The Symbionese Liberation Army. The FALN. The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, when not forgotten altogether. But there was a time in America, during the 1970s, when bombings by domestic underground groups were a daily occurrence. The FBI combated these and other groups as nodes in a single revolutionary underground, dedicated to the violent overthrow of the American government.
In Days of Rage, Bryan Burrough re-creates an atmosphere that seems almost unbelievable just forty years later, conjuring a time of native-born radicals, most of them “nice middle-class kids,” smuggling bombs into skyscrapers and detonating them inside the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, at a Boston courthouse and a Wall Street restaurant packed with lunchtime diners. The FBI’s fevered response included the formation of a secret task force called Squad 47, dedicated to hunting the groups down and rolling them up. But Squad 47 itself broke many laws in its attempts to bring the revolutionaries to justice, and its efforts ultimately ended in fiasco.
Drawing on revelatory interviews with members of the underground and the FBI who speak about their experiences for the first time, Days of Rage is a mesmerizing book that takes us into the hearts and minds of homegrown terrorists and federal agents alike and weaves their stories into a spellbinding secret history of the 1970s.
“Burrough has interviewed dozens of people to compile what is surely the most comprehensive examination of ‘70s-era American terrorism . . . Burrough, a longtime Vanity Fair correspondent, recalls story after story of astonishing heists, murders, orgies, and wiretaps. Few of his subjects are sympathetic, but all are vividly drawn. He refrains from making moral judgments, which makes the material he presents all the more powerful . . . this book is as likely as a definitive history of Vietnam-era political violence as we are ever likely to get.”
“[A] rich and important history. . . deep and sweeping. . . . wide-ranging and often revelatory interviews with many Weather alumni.”
“Impressively researched and deeply engrossing."
“In “Days of Rage,” Bryan Burrough, author of “Public Enemies,” provides a fascinating look at an almost forgotten era of homegrown terrorism . . . . The book is utterly captivating, coupling careful historical research with breathless accounts of the bombings and the perpetrators’ narrow escapes.”
“Burrough's scholarly pursuit of archival documents and oral histories does not result in an academic tome. Stories are told in a compelling, novelistic fashion, and Burrough doesn't have to stretch to get plenty of sex and violence onto the pages. The descriptions of bloody shootouts and bodies dismembered in bombings are impressively vivid. If you ever wanted to know what it felt like to be at an awkward Weathermen orgy, here's your chance.”
“Days of Rage is bound to alter the conversation about this crucial topic of our time.”
History News Network:
“This is a vivid, engrossing, and far-ranging work that provides a detailed glimpse of a half-dozen underground radical groups in the Vietnam era and its aftermath ...represents a heroic work of reportage...His work on the lesser-known revolutionary groups of the period, such as the Black Liberation Army, is in fact unprecedented; they never have received such detailed and exhaustive treatment. And to the extent that he goes over familiar territory, Burrough does a nice job of demythologizing his subjects. To his credit, the reader gets warts-and-all portraits and not hagiography.”
“Burroughs’s insights are powerful. . . Doggedly pursuing former radicals who’ve never spoken on the record before,Vanity Fair special correspondent Burrough (The Big Rich) delivers an exhaustive history of the mostly ignored period of 1970s domestic terrorism”
“A fascinating, in-depth look at a tumultuous period of American unrest.”
"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 . . . [DAYS OF RAGE] is thoroughgoing and fascinating . . . A superb chronicle. . . that sheds light on how the war on terror is being waged today."
William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards, Money and Power, and The Price of Silence:
“In spellbinding fashion, Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage brilliantly explicates one of the most confounding periods of recent American history—the era when a web of home-grown radicals and self-styled anarchists busily plotted the overthrow of the American government. Rarely has such a subject been matched with a writer and reporter of Burrough’s extraordinary skill. I could not put the book down; you won't be able to, either.”
Beverly Gage, Yale University; author of The Day Wall Street Exploded:
“A fascinating portrait of the all-but-forgotten radical underground of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Burroughs gives us the first full picture of a secret world where radical dreams often ended in personal and political tragedy.”
Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back:
“Bryan Burrough gives the story of America’s armed underground revolutionaries of the 1960s and 1970s what it has long desperately needed: Clarity, levelheadedness, context, and reportorial rigor. He has sifted the embers of an essential conflagration of the counterculture, found within it a suspenseful and enlightening history, and told it in a way that is blessedly free of cant or point-scoring.”
Paul Ingrassia, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Engines of Change and Crash Course:
“Bryan Burrough has delivered a terrific piece of research, reportage and storytelling. Those who lived through the period of America's radical underground, as I did, will be amazed to learn how much they didn’t.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Illustrated edition (April 5 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 624 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143107976
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143107972
- Item weight : 515 g
- Dimensions : 13.89 x 3.2 x 21.36 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #382,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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Burrough doesn't romanticize these people like many an ex-hippie pushing a radical agenda. He is clear-sighted about the nature of the radical underground, which seems to be created by equal parts narcissism, violence, idealism, self-indulgence and legitimate grievances. He clearly distinguishes the radical underground from mainstream Sixties counterculture. And while underground groups depended on support from above ground supporters, this support dried up after a few years, leaving groups to rely largely on robbery and fraud to support their campaigns of small scale bombings and occasional shootings.
A fascinating portrayal of a movement that has largely become a historical footnote. Burrough brings his account of domestic terrorism and life on the run to life by interviewing G-men, ex-radicals, cops, radical lawyers, family members to give a gloriously detailed account of a time not unlike our own.
Top reviews from other countries
One of the books great strengths is Burrough seems to have no personal or political axes to grind.I'm not even clear on his politics, which is to the good.This is definitely a reporters book. I think he worked hard on this book and wants to share what he learned .Burrough tries to be as objective as he can.I think that will bother some of the books likely readers who will be looking for a romanticized view.Very few will be bothered by the portrait of the SLA, most famous for kidnapping Patty Hearst.They seemed like crazies at the time and in retrospect , nothing has changed.(The SLA is the source of the books comic moments). The BLA and FALN may have their nostalgiacs but one wonders why.It's with the Weathermen that I suspect Burrough steps on some toes .Burrough's Weathermen are upper middle class largely Ivy League radicals who imagined they were a Leninist vanguard.Burrough all but comes out and says this self perception was utterly ridiculous.After accomplishing next to nothing over a course of years, the Weather Underground, as it became known, concentrated on bombing rest rooms in public buildings.When that began to seem utterly pointless , they surrendered and generally landed fairly good jobs .Burrough is pretty skeptical of these people.At one point he makes it clear that he believes William Ayers is lying about the past in an attempt to prettify it.In this portrait,the Weatherman wind up looking pretty bad;Mediocre people with an inflated sense of their importance.It's also striking how not "new" much of this segment of the New Lefts ideology was .Burrough talks about people who read Stalin(one can only imagine the shear torture of that).All these groups seem to have been fixated on Marxist-Leninism.
Burrough goes into considerable detail on how people operating underground were able to do what they did.I generally found this detail interesting.As I noted before, this is a reporters book.You'll learn lots about how people obtained false id , techniques for evading police and even a bit about bomb making.Burrough would definitely make a good crime story writer.