At 9:02 A.M. on April 19, 1995, in the largest terrorist act ever perpetrated on American soil, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by the explosion of a homemade truck bomb. One hundred and sixty-eight people -- including nineteen children -- were killed by the blast, and more than five hundred others were injured. Timothy J. McVeigh, an antigovernment activist, was tried and convicted of the bombing. But to Americans everywhere, the story has remained a mystery, held hostage by McVeigh's refusal to explain or even discuss the event and his involvement.
With this book, that mystery is solved.
American Terrorist will change, unmistakably and permanently, our understanding of the crime. Journalists Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck have been researching the Oklahoma City bombing -- and the Iife of Tim McVeigh -- since the week the tragedy occurred. They have interviewed more than one hundred and fifty people from every stage of McVeigh's life, from his childhood friends to the psychiatrist hired by the defense team to examine him before his trial. They have garnered the cooperation of McVeigh's father, mother, and sister Jennifer, and gained exclusive access to previously unpublished family photographs and personal effects. And, in April 1999, Michel and Herbeck secured an extraordinary coup: in more than seventy-five hours of interviews, they persuaded Timothy McVeigh to give the first complete, candid, no-holds-barred account of his story -- an account, given with no compensation or right of approval, that American Terrorist sheds light on every aspect of McVeigh's life. It describes his relationship with Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier and the consuming distrust of the government shared by the three. And in its pages every detail of the bombing itself is reconstructed, from the origins of the plot to the moment of detonation and McVeigh's aborted getaway. American Terrorist puts to rest conspiracy theories that have previously gone unresolved. It clarifies the role and responsibility of every person who has been implicated in the plan. And it explains, thoroughly and definitively, how a decorated war hero from rural New York State became the worst mass murderer in the nation's history.
At once a powerful work of journalism and a uniquely American story, American Terrorist wiII help bring closure, once and for all, to a wound left too long open in our national psyche.