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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond Paperback – November 16, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (November 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932360824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932360820
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This book is meticulously researched and brilliantly argued.
Karen Franklin
Out of everything I have read about workplace and school shootings, I think Mark Ames finally gets it right.
Michael A. Kleen
If you're thinking of going postal, well... this book might just push you over the edge.
Jay Tell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Ed Weinberg on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mr Ames, of the ex-pat alternative paper The Exile in Moscow, has been working on this strong book for years, and now that it's here, I don't know who'll want to read it. It's devastating. I felt a little dirty bringing my copy into work. My boss asked me what I was reading, I told him about it, and then said, "You'd better watch out," because I'm something of a loose cannon. He told me to shut up, and that was that.

Anyway, the book. What Mr Ames lacks in writing ability (not much, but his language is thick with judgmental adjectives that make the reading more arduous- maybe this was his intention?) he makes up for in original thought, and this book is a complex and original work. Revolutionary would not be too strong a word. He compares post office, workplace and school shootings to slave uprisings, and goes far into his comparisons by quoting the language surrounding both rebellions. Where Columbine's murderers were motivated by base evil and video games, Nat Turner's slave army seemed to be motivated by base evil and the ingratitude and treachery of the negroes, in the media accounts of the time. Ames doesn't think these accounts cover for the hostile environments that precipitated the attacks, rather he believes that the problem was that slavery was ingrained in the value systems of Nat Turner's time, so much so that they couldn't see anything anyone would find objectional about it, in much the same way that we can't admit now that our culture has something to do with the recent epidemic of rage massacres. Can you believe?- 45 school shootings in the 2003-04 academic year alone.

It's an unwieldy topic, but Ames does a terrific job with it. One thing I would have liked to see would be a handling of the original march to unionization. I guess that at the time, the government didn't support companies killing their employees with low wages and unsafe conditions quite so much. Now, they do that stuff legally.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jay Tell on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you weren't in one of the popular cliques in high school (i.e. 90 percent of us), if you've ever worked in a flourescent-lit nest of cubicles for idiot overseers (i.e. a typical office environment) you will read 'Going Postal' and nod, and read and nod, and as you read further, you will get more and more fired up.

But fired up enough to do something, to actually go postal? Well, according to Ames, that depends on your mental health. 'Normal' folks just smile and suck it up, letting it build up and eat out their insides, and in this way make it through yet another soul-crushing day. If you're one of the normal folks, then this book is for you. If you're thinking of going postal, well... this book might just push you over the edge. You'd better stick to your John Grishams and Suze Ormans.

Ames is able to write about something so basic to our existence (the school and office ARE the settings of our lives, he rightly points out) because he has earned perspective: He's a SoCal native (not coincidentally, the coastal 'paradise' where many US rage murders are concentrated) who has worked for years as a journalist in Russia. This perspective helped him notice things so elementary and important that we Americans take them for granted, and hence, ignore their significance. Even two decades and dozens of rage murders haven't shaken us out of our zombie-like stupor. It takes somebody like Ames -- one of us, but then, not really one of us -- to pull back the curtain and reveal how cruel, petty, and spiritually debilitating our lives in America are.

And it doesn't have to be this way. This state of affairs was not inevitable.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on February 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you crack open a book entitled "Going Postal," you don't expect to start reading about the antebellum South. But Ames starts by transporting us back in time in service of his provocative theme - that today's rage murders in workplaces and schools are contemporary forms of slave rebellion, indeed the only possible form of rebellion in a society as decollectivized and militarized as the modern corporate United States.

In this highly original and intriguing analysis, Ames ridicules "copycat" pundits who myopically search everywhere but right in front of their faces to explain the wave of workplace and schoolyard shootings that has swept through the United States over the last couple of decades. Hollywood movies, video games, the National Rifle Association, mental illness, bad parenting - the list of potential culprits is endless. But never the "toxic culture" of the institutions that breed these doomed revolts.

Whereas initial news accounts often vilify shooters as almost cartoon cutouts - mentally imbalanced, trench-coated racists or kooks - Ames offers in-depth portrayals, so we come to know them as ordinary human beings oppressed and stressed to the breaking point by a ruthless corporate or school environment. Attempts to profile individual offenders fall flat, Ames argues, because the offenders are potentially anyone. As evidence, he catalogs the widespread sympathy for many of the shooters among their former coworkers and classmates. One would never see such sympathy among victims of serial sex murderers, he points out.

Instead of profiling the individual rebels, Ames profiles the institutions.
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