Buy Used
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Good readable copy. Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist Hardcover – June, 2003

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
$19.90 $0.43
"Please retry"

Spring Books
The Big Books of Spring
See our editors' picks for the books you'll want to read this season, from blockbusters and biographies to new fiction and children's books.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chase adds an important element to our understanding of the infamous Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. Part of what made Kaczynski an iconic figure after his arrest in 1996 for 16 mail bombings (resulting in three deaths) between 1978 and 1995 was his unusual background as a highly gifted, Harvard-educated mathematician. While the media found comfort in writing him off as a mental case, more remarkable was how seemingly typical Kaczynski was. Bucking the conventional wisdom, Chase (In a Dark Wood) identifies Kaczynski as a victim more of the anxious and contradictory Cold War 1950s than of the incendiary 1960s. With a background strikingly similar to Kaczynski's-including both a Harvard degree and self-imposed exile in Montana-Chase is in a unique position to probe the underlying tensions that led Kaczynski to commit dispassionate murder in the name of ideals. Chase persuasively isolates the turning point in his subject's years at Harvard, "where lasting human relations are more rare than championship football teams." In Cambridge he faced the typical Harvard pressures but, more importantly, was a subject of three years' worth of what many will agree were wildly irresponsible psychological experiments led by maverick psychology pioneer Henry A. Murray. While the conclusions Chase draws are unimpeachable, his description of the fateful experiments feels truncated, no doubt because some records remain sealed. Chase's disenchanted indictment of academia (represented here by Harvard) as lackey to the military-industrial complex is all the more compelling for the author's unruffled sense of perspective. With its unusual emphasis and sometimes surprisingly personal tone, this may become the definitive Kaczynski volume. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Chase, who, like Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, graduated from Harvard and fled academe for the Montana wilderness, here offers a new slant on the triple murderer and doctor of philosophy. According to the author, the philosophical roots of Kaczynski's anti-industrialism began with Harvard's curriculum in the late 1950s. Chase writes that it cultivated the view, later to be called cultural or moral relativism, that democratic society and its institutions were sheer power relations and bereft of intrinsic value. Chase then sets forth the etymology, so to speak, of the killer's more particular thoughts, concluding that Kaczynski was a cherry picker among quite old and common execrations of technology. Tying in the killer's personal rages, Chase suggests that social awkwardness and participation in a traumatizing psychological experiment (led by the unorthodox psychologist Henry A. Murray) underlay Kaczynski's exaltation in planning and "justifying" his crimes. It takes an intellectual to think like that, and Chase astutely and provocatively delineates Kaczynski's metamorphosis into a Raskolnikov. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Hero Quick Promo
Gold Box Deal of the Day: Up to 80% Off Fiction Favorites
Today only, more than 15 fiction favorites are up to 80% off on Kindle. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393020029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393020021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

That would be a nice appendix to the book.
Thus, avers Chase, the Unabomber story is not just about Ted Kaczynski, but also about the evils to which the modern intellect is heir.
Daniel H.
Regardless this is a really good book and I highly recommend it.
Book Fanatic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As an academic whose students teasingly accused of being the Unabomber a couple of times in the late 1990s myself, after reading the manifesto in the fall of 1996 I realized both why they were teasing me and how many of the perspectives and ideas regarding the nature of modern society and its impact on our experience of reality we shared. And while his own particular interpretation of the effects and influences of modern technological society varied in substantial detail from my own regarding the specific mechanics by which it operated and its influence and effects, I was drawn by what I considered to be the mysterious forces that would force someone with such an obviously passionate love for the environment and the earth to commit random acts of murder in its name.
The media, of course, dismissed the manifesto as the irrational ramblings of a mad man, which to an untrained journalist's mind, anyone willing to murder complete strangers must surely be. Well, not necessarily. Terrorists, for example, may be immoral and horrific, but they are necessarily insane. They may just be committed to the particular cause to the degree they are willing to use any means to reach the desired end. And indeed, if the manifesto was the work of a mad man, there seemed to be some method to it. I found some answers from an interesting article written by Sales Kirkpatrick, a fellow self-confessed Neo-Luddite who feared the dehumanizing consequences of the emerging postindustrial society. He critiqued the manifesto, and in so doing helped many to better appreciate how this individual had slipped over the edge into homicide and madness.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover
Author Alston Chase is a contemporary of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Both attended Harvard in the late 1950's, both worked as university professors and, coincidentally, both retired to seclusion in Montana. Chase originally set out to write a book about the legacy of 1960's America. His research on Kaczynski revealed that contrary to the media's snap judgment, Kaczynski was not a product of his 1960's time at Berkley. The Unabomber manifesto is, in fact, rooted in 1950's Cold War ideology and the teachings of liberal arts colleges such as Harvard during that decade. Chase writes, "Once they had made up their minds about Kaczynski--whether deciding that he is insane, a profound philosopher, a misguided ideologist, or a representative of the sixties--many people lost interest in him. University scholars all too willing to devote seminars to such pop cultural doss as the Grateful Dead and Star Trek have virtually ignored the manifesto, producing just two articles on it since its appearance."

In the first half of the book, Chase provides a chronology of Kaczynski's crimes and his never-ending quest for a more powerful, more deadly bomb. Chase sheds lights on the futility of the FBI search and the numerous red herrings Kaczynski set our for law enforcement. The media, cut off from Kaczynski's cabin, were quick to label his messy and unkempt, when in reality he was meticulously organized. He kept a standard mountain tradition of not wasting water bathing while doing heavy winter work, and for that he was labeled a strange, unclean hermit. The media interviewed people Kaczynski didn't like, and they labeled him a misanthrope. When Chase interviewed Kaczynski's friends in the local Montana town, however, they remembered him as friendly and intelligent, if somewhat reserved.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Scott Snyder on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a difficult book to review without getting into a deep conversation on all matters philosophical, cultural and personal.
This is the story of Theodore Kaczynski, and it is fraught with irony. Here's A Ph.D. in mathematics with a highly scientific mind who attacks science with science (in this way he could be labeled a "metaphysician"); a man who would destroy people to save them from "the system"; a student of the humanities (literature, languages, philosophy, history) who acts inhumanely; a loner who would rather be in the wilds of Montana but now finds himself in the belly of the beast he so hated. His dissertation was on "Boundary Functions" but it seems that for all his breakthrough thinking, he malfunctioned at the moral boundary.
Finally, here is a man who dismisses morals as "mere" emotions that are irrational and without an objective, scientific foundation, who at the same time was driven by the emotions of rage, anger and revenge. If emotions and morals are invalid in the service of humanity, certainly they are invalid in the pursuit of destruction.
Alston wants to place a lot of the responsibility for the Kaczynski's anger on the General Education curriculum then taught at Harvard. I thought it strange that the books and authors Chase mentions are books by my idols! But I draw very different lessons from the works of Dostoyevsky, Melville and Mumford than does Chase. There is a lot that can be said about the Gen Ed curriculum, but based on an intense personal experience with most of the writers mentioned here, I know them to embrace humanitarian ideals and to move beyond despair. To lay the causative influence of the Unabomber here is mistaken.
The author asks: "Is intelligence evil?" Answer: No, of course not. Intelligence is a tool.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews