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Lone Wolf: Eric Rudolph: Murder, Myth, and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw Hardcover – November 7, 2006

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Eric Rudolph, who in 1996 and 1997 set off deadly bombs in Atlanta and Birmingham—at two abortion clinics, a gay bar and at Olympic Centennial Park—was both reviled as a terrorist and celebrated as a folk hero when he evaded the largest manhunt in FBI history for five years. Vollers, a National Book Award finalist for Ghosts of Mississippi, was—for reasons Rudolph never made clear—the only journalist he consented to communicate with (in writing only) while he was awaiting trial. She draws on his letters to her to great effect in providing not just a page-turning account of the hunt for Rudolph, but, more important, a look into the "remarkable and frightening mind" of a man who, after finally pleading guilty to avoid the death penalty, remained proud of his murderous actions. The cunning fugitive, whose aim was to protest abortion, explains to Vollers how he survived the winter cold in North Carolina's Nantahala forest, how he scavenged for food, talked to himself and read newspapers aloud to prevent his vocal cords from deteriorating during the years when he spoke to no one. Vollers provides an equally striking portrait of Rudolph's mother, a misguided spiritual seeker who led her son into contact with a Christian Identity compound and other survivalist, antigovernment extremists. There are plenty of surprises and conundrums in this breathtaking and deeply disturbing attempt to answer the elusive question, "Who is Eric Rudolph?" (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

That Eric Rudolph admired the film version of Maryanne Vollers's book Ghosts of Mississippi perhaps explains why Vollers was the only journalist with whom he corresponded while awaiting trial. On the basis of Rudolph's letters, FBI files, and interviews with his family, this compelling true-crime storydraws a portrait of a "lone-wolf" criminal who, fueled by antiabortion and antihomosexual sentiment, felt compelled to kill. The best parts center on Rudolph; when he disappears, the narrative slows down. While most reviewers agree that Vollers's grisly details and humanistic approach create a "gripping investigation of the bomber's mind" (New York Times Book Review), a few contend that readers never fully understand Rudolph's actions. In the end, notes the Los Angeles Times, Voller acknowledges that a satisfying answer to the question "Who is Eric Rudolph?" may be "as elusive as the man himself once was."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (November 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006059862X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060598624
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,987,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David on December 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While not as dramatic or as memorable as other terrorist attacks on American soil over the past 20 years, the Olympic Park bombing is one of those events where you'll always remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened. (Most people were watching the Atlanta Olympics!) This bombing was just the first in a series of heinous acts committed by Eric Rudolph, whose short, but effective bombing spree in the South ended up in a massive manhunt and an anti-climactc capture and prosecution. Ms. Vollers writes an excellent piece of investigative journalism, explaining in great detail the events of those days and the reasons behind why Rudolph acted the way he did.

This was no easy task. Researching law enforcement and prosecutorial actions can be very difficult, as they are rarely made public and many law enforcement personnel (and criminals) are wary of the media. Also, trying to get into the mind of someone who is intelligent enough to manufacture a device as complex and dangerous as a bomb, but amoral enough to actually want to use it, is extremely hard to do. Ms. Vollers takes this task on very well and tries her best to show a fair and even-handed account of Rudolph, his crimes and the response from the law enforcement community.

The book moves along quickly, starting with the bombings, moving into the manhunt in the hills of western North Carolina and finally ending up with Rudolph's capture and prosecution. This book does not glorify Rudolph's actions in any way. Rudolph murdered three people and seriously maimed another. The excuses he gives for his actions only harm his cause instead of supporting it, a fact that the author brings forth at the end of her book. Ms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James W. Berry on December 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I asked for and received Vollers' book as Christmas gift after reading a review of the book in the local newspaper. I was anxious to read this book as an individual who was watching the Olympics live the night Rudolph's Olympic Park bomb exploded, read and watched the news reports of the other Atlanta bombings, the Birmingham bombing, and finally the ensuing manhunt for Rudolph in the western NC mountains - a place my family and I frequently visit.

I was not disappointed when I picked up the book on Christmas evening and could not put it down. Rarely do I read a book cover to cover in less than a week. Vollers' text is the rare exception.

As a scholar, I found the book to be well written (although I did note a few editorial errors such as the fact "Flint, Michigan" is spelled "Flynt" in the book) and easy to follow and read. It was obvious that Vollers had done an exceptional job of researching her subject and presented what I perceive to be a fair and accurate reporting of the events from beginning to end.

In order to verify this, I actually took the time to followup on some of the information and citations that Vollers mentions in her text that are easily available via the internet. The information contained in her text was true to form. While some of this information had been edited(I suspect for space and form reasons), anyone with a computer can find the full text readily available if they care to read in more detail Rudolph's writings or other information cited in the text.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Rudolph, his actions, or the history behind the events, investigations, and eventual capture of Rudolph.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Homer Simpson on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I can't stand it when individuals use the incredibly valuable resource that is Amazon book reviews to make some parochial comment, especially one who thinks what they have to say is so important that they type it all in caps. When that happens I am compelled to offset it with a 5-star review (I read the book and it is a quality work).

BTW, I grew up in NC and the author's description of Asheville is fine in the context it is given. So sorry that it offended an Ashevillian who can't see the forest for the trees...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gugga on December 20, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
A fascinating story in which the author takes you inside the world of the FBI, ATF, and workings of the American judicial system; including the inroads and jockeying between the various government departments. The Olympic Park Bomber was a loner who survived in the Nantahala National Forest for five years before being captured by a local sheriff after the Big Boys from D.C. went home empty handed.
A real page turner.
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Format: Paperback
I debated whether to give four or five stars for Maryann Vollers "Lone Wolf: Murder, Myth and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw." I've decided that four-and-a-half stars is about right. Since there is no category for that I chose to buck it up.

The complex person that is Eric Rudolph along with his twisted motivations for doing what he did are only partly revealed in Vollers work. In her defense, she was writing in the time-frame immediately following Rudolph's arrest. At the time, Eric engaged in a dialogue with her and only her, mostly in written form as letters or as written answers to posed questions.

Several aspects of this story will be deeply intriguing to readers of this book. First, what was the background of Eric Rudolph? Second, what was it that motivated him to do what he did? Third and most compelling to me, how did he manage to survive for five years living outside and alone in the Nantahala Forest of western North Carolina?

Vollers does a very good job of presenting, probing and analyzing the background of Eric Rudolph. His parents, particularly his mother, along with the early death of his father are factors. Where the Rudolphs lived, their religious and political attitudes, how they lived as a family, key friends and acquaintances are revealed. Eric's motivations are articulated in his self-proclaimed "Mainfesto," an imitative Unabomber-like diatribe that comes late in Vollers narrative.

The mystery of how Eric survived in the forest for those five years is revealed only in part. Certain aspects of his physical survival are explained. Far less is explained about his psychological survival. For four of those five years he spoke to no one.
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