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A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate Paperback – March 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806129263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806129266
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,209,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The violent, horrific events that plagued Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Oklahoma City thrust subversive militia under the public microscope, exposing the growing feeling of mistrust that has caused some to take up arms against the government. The more extreme among these anti-government "patriots" are examined in A Force upon the Plain, as Kenneth Stern keenly focuses on the growing influence and anger of the paramilitary movement. Stern investigates the reasons some are compelled to join, delivering objective and insightful analyses that eschew media hype and the misconceptions that characterize much coverage of modern militia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Stern (Holocaust Denial) issues a wake-up call regarding the growing paramilitary movement, which, he estimates, has a membership of between 10,000 and 40,000, largely in states west of the Mississippi. Most of these militia members (principally men) are armed, view the federal government as the enemy of the people and feel that civil war is not only possible but justifiable. Stern cites evidence that, in addition to paranoid, these people are often racist, anti-Semitic, anti-environmentalist and anti-gun control. With the collapse of the Soviet regime, he points out, the most easily defined target of hatred disappeared, and has now been replaced by the U.N. and the federal government. Stern warns that the paramilitary groups should not be dismissed but recognized as a genuine threat, as the Oklahoma City bombing dramatized. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is a survey of some rather insignificant groups of social misfits we sometimes call "hate groups", but they are not militias, and don't even call themselves militias. This book is not about the militia movement at all. None of the people in the real militia movement are mentioned. The author is just trying to discredit the term "militia" by applying it to the wrong objects. I am personally acquainted with most of the leaders in the real militia movement, which is entirely different from the racist/separatist movement. Indeed, the two movements are hostile to one another, agreeing on opposition to gun control but not about much else. A disinformation piece
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jeff M. Chambers on October 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Stern's book does in journalistic fashion detail some of the "events" that have occured recently related to this fuzzy group known as the militia. However I would agree with most other reviewers here that this work proceeds from the desire to further alienate the already alienated and offers little in the way of allowing the reader to understand this phenomena. I'd recommend Dyer's Harvest of Rage for an understanding of this issue.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry, but this book is nothing short of a smear job. Everyone is well aware of the fact that some modest portion of the militia movement is allied with racist or Nazi viewpoints. Stern, unfortunately, seems intent on practicing a sort of leftist McCarthyism in which he sees all opponents of the government as inherently racist, neo-Nazi, proto-skinhead thugs. This book is raw sensationalism at its worst. Stern's attempts to equate hatred of the government with hatred of groups of people such as Blacks or Jews is simply incredible. The idea that a person who places an anti-IRS bumpersticker on their car is the same as a person who gets a swastika tatoo, which frequently seems to be Stern's thesis, is ludicrous
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. C. dare on March 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A decent read. But i have to say this is a biased book. I am personally involved with the Militia Movement here in Wa state and I have to say Stern does damage the militia outlokk and image. He doesnt quite understand why people join a milita and the whole ideology behind it. Just because someone supports limited government, legaliazation of drugs and pro gun doesnt make them unamerican or domestic terrorists. True some may have been a part of a milita and done harm to the public but that is them personally not the grou pthey affiliate with. Perception is key here. This is a decent read from a certain viewpoint. none the less biased.

please stern reevaluate what the militia is and why people join them before saying they are racists.
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17 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mark Reynolds on March 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I had heard that I was written up in it. Sure enough, there were two different places that I came up in the book. In both places I was "quoted" with no source to back up the "quote" and all the quotes were total fabrication by either the author or whomever the author used for his "source". I was NEVER the head of an un-organized or organized militia in Stevens County, and the only presentation that I did at the Colville Grange was an invocation. Apparently SOMEONE who is pretty liberal is trying to make folks in the public believe something that just is not so. And then of course there is the author who OBVIOUSLY has a bone to pick with anyone who doesn't go along with the status quo of statism and ra ra ra the government loves us retoric that is being shoved down our throats. Too bad some of the "quotes" that were attributed to me, didn't actually happen!
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Well, I'm just as sorry as I can be that the members of the various militias feel that they're the victims of paranoia. Maybe now they have some idea of how the ACLU, the feminist movement, gay rights advocates, the Black Panthers, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, and dozens of other organizations feel when they're judged unfairly; of course, none of those agencies are cursed by the militias' burden of extremist ties, reprinted hate literature, and those pesky 140-odd dead in Oklahoma City.
I found Mr. Stern's book to be informative and convincing. As for his detractors, I just have to know: if militias aren't bands of right-wing racist/sexist/homophobic/religiously intolerant fanatics, then why are they exclusively made up of straight white Christian males? Where are the black militias, the Asian-American militias, the Jewish militias, the Muslim militias, the gay militias, the woman-dominated militias, or even the MIXED militias? If the militias aren't the vile and dangerous threats to the American way of life that Mr. Stern depicts them as, then what's with all the HATE LITERATURE and GUNS? What am I missing here?
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kenneth Stern does an exceptional job describing the facts surrounding the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents, and how the attitudes generated from those incidents fueled the militia movement. However, Stern quickly lost credibility in my eyes by injecting little tongue-in-cheek jabs and sarcastic remarks about militia ideology (paranoid as they may be). Opinion is expected in some research works, but Stern needs to learn the difference between academic opinion and newspaper style editorial zingers.
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