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The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right Paperback – January 20, 2004

3.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The militia movement burst into the consciousness of Americans with the Oklahoma City bombing, but hate groups have a long, shameful lineage in America. In this detailed, provocative examination, Levitas focuses on the ideas of William Potter Gale, who, despite Jewish roots, became one of the progenitors of contemporary hate ("If a Jew comes near you, run a sword through him," he told radio listeners in 1982). Gale adapted the idea of the Posse Comitatus, based on a little-known 19th-century law, to spread his notion of the need for citizen militias to defend whites. But, as Levitas, an expert on the radical right, shows, Gale is just one in a long line of racists who have used American ideas and language (such as freedom, rights and private property) to disseminate their message, which often finds a home with the alienated, sparked by specific events such as the shootouts at Ruby Ridge and Waco in the 1990s. Perhaps most disturbingly, Levitas makes a strong argument that these groups have a broad-based "weak sympathy" in numbers that far exceed their small active membership. He also shows how state and local governments have been reluctant to act against these groups, either out of sympathy or in an effort to keep the spotlight away from them. But as Levitas emphasizes, Oklahoma City and the hate groups' cheering for the September 11 attacks demonstrate that these groups will be ignored at our peril. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With so much attention focused on international terrorism, this book hits closer to home with an eye-opening look at potential domestic terrorist threats. Levitas explores the historic roots of Far Right hate groups in the U.S., how they have developed and evolved, and how the government has responded or failed to respond to this potent threat from within. Levitas traces the virulent racial hatred of these groups to similar sentiments in Europe during the Middle Ages; through U.S. slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; during World War II; and through desegregation and the civil rights movement. He also traces the metamorphosis of various groups, including the Citizens' Council, Ku Klux Klan, and John Birch Society, detailing their bizarre theories of racial superiority and escalating violence. Levitas notes the groups' efforts to broaden their appeal beyond racism by promoting tax protests, resistance to gun control, and discontent about government intrusion, and the troubling political trends that have lent support to antigovernment militia groups since the 1960s. This is a well-researched, disturbing look at domestic terrorism. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (January 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312320418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312320416
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The title is somewhat misleading. This is less a study not so much about the 90s militia movement as it is about Posse Comitatus, a far-right movement that was influential on the fringes of both tax and farm protest movements of the 70s and 80s. Levitas has done more research on this shadowy organization than pretty much any other observer of the far right - even exposing the truth about its actual founder. The author spends a lot of time examining the group's tortured political and racial ideology. He also adds an important chapter of the study of the history of the American Agricultural Movement, one of the least examined protest movements in recent years, showing how the far right and progressive left battled it out for control of the AAM. A worth while read for anyone interested in the American far right and rural politics.
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Format: Hardcover
While the book deals wth a timely topic, it is marred by a couple glaring faults. First, the title completely misleads the reader into thinking it is going to discuss the largely-1990s phenomenon on the so-called militiat movement. In reality, the militia movement is dealt with only sparingly at the end of the book and in too few chapters. This is primarily a book about the rise of the "radical right." The author could have done a better job explaining and elaborating upon that theme.

That leads to the second major criticism: that the work too often reads like an insiders' case study rather than a work easily accessible to the general public or academia. The author assumes that the reader will be instantly familiar with all the terms and tactics of the hate groups mentioned in this book. Many aren't, and a lot of the background "big picture" history is either left out or treated cursorily.

Nevertheless, looking past these faults one can find a great wealth of information on the phenomenon of the far-right and its place in late 20th century American society.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Terrorist Next Door is an outstanding book and I can personally vouch for some of the information presented by Mr. Levitas. His sources are all cited and the book presents a lot of information and events that many people have never heard of.

I grew up in Nebraska during the 1980's in the middle of the farming crisis. My father was heavily involved in the Sheriff's Posse Comitatus movement and he was also a sovereign citizen. I remember the Rulo torture murders and the Arthur Kirk shootout. I remember when the Treasury Department moved in and seized a my father's friend's farm and tractor dealership in Columbus, Nebraska in 1985.

This book is spot on regarding the patriot movement and how it is full of bigotry and antisemitism. I remember traveling to Missouri and Kansas to see James Wickstrom speak and so my father and his friends could attend the George Gordon school of common law in Isabella, Missouri. Now in 2013 I find that the patriot movement is back on the rise and people in the Midwest are falling prey to these snake oil salesmen who are peddling books and seminars that will supposedly teach a student how to circumvent the law and their obligation to pay taxes. These groups are anything but patriotic and are very dangerous. The recent mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, the killing of an abortion doctor in Wichita, Kansas, and the murders of law enforcement officers in West Memphis Arkansas and St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana are just some recent examples of acts of terrorisim that were carried out by the radical right and sovereign citizen movement.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I realize there are mixed reviews here, but my aim was to learn more about domestic terrorism. In that regard, I found the book very well written and helpful. Of course, I balance the perspective with many other books/blogs/sources, but I did find this book to be helpful to my research.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Would order again. Book arrived on time and in great condition! No problems whatsoever.
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Format: Paperback
The Terrorist Next Door is an invaluable resource for people who have been previously exposed to information about the militia movement. This is not a book for first-time readers who are curious about the domestic terrorist subculture. The Terrorist Next Door suffers somewhat by poor editing. When reading the book, I was under the impression that substantive parts were cut out of the manuscript. The book ends up being a series of case studies, but the writer does not discuss possible relationships between the case studies. For example, did the massacre at Rulo, Nebraska somehow influence the federal government's activities at Waco? Also, Levitas' discussion of the Arizona Patriots needs a great deal more elaboration, because -- as pointed out in other books about the Oklahoma City Bombing -- McVeigh and Fortier spent a great deal of time with this group. So again, is there a substantive relationship between the Arizona Patriots and the Oklahoma City Bombing? Despite the aforementioned editing difficulties and the lack of cohesion among case studies, The Terrorist Next Door provides excellent depictions of Gordon Kahl, Richard Wayne Snell, and the effects of the farm crisis. However, I would have preferred more information on McVeigh and The Order. In addition, a previous reviewer wrote that Levitas attempted to tie the militia movement to the Sept. 11 attacks, and therefore, accuses Levitas of academic dishonesty. This reviewer needs to reread the last chapter in the book. Levitas states that many members of the militia movement were exulted by the Sept. 11 attacks -- perhaps most notably, Billy Roper -- but the book does not suggest that the milita movement was responsibile for the World Trade Center attacks.
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