From Publishers Weekly
With the roots and trappings of terrorism at the forefront of national consciousness, Hamm's study of domestic terrorism is especially timely. Hamm (Apocalypse in Oklahoma), a criminology professor at Indiana State University, offers a detailed look at the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a radical right cell that he suspects actively assisted Timothy McVeigh. Based upon information from shared acquaintances, a reconstruction of McVeigh's movements in the months preceding the bombing and other circumstantial evidence, Hamm theorizes that the mysterious "John Doe 2" allegedly seen with McVeigh on the day of the bombing may have been an ARA member. These disaffected racists cast themselves, not unlike McVeigh, as patriots battling a corrupt federal government. Hamm interviewed the group's principal leader, Pete Langan, at length in prison, where he is serving a life sentence, and the account is based largely on his perspective. The colorful Langan took a few ideologically warped young men and led them on 22 successful bank robberies. Not your run-of-the-mill right-wing radical, Langan is a pre-operative transsexual. Hamm perceives sublimated homoerotic undercurrents among these neo-Nazis; Langan hid his sexuality from his gun-toting cohorts. He now blames his criminal actions on "`gender dysphoria.'" Despite Hamm's compelling perspective on right-wing subculture, his central theory that the ARA actively participated in the Oklahoma bombing is less than fully convincing, based as it is on only circumstantial evidence. Regardless, and despite the overlong, overly simplistic psychological portrait of Langan, the book will interest readers seeking more information about this violent subculture. Illus. not seen by PW.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Hamm explores the milieu of the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), whose six members "rode hell-for-leather through the . . . peculiar world of the radical right" in the 1990s, robbing banks and otherwise expressing their "righteous hatred" and often racist political goals. It isn't a pretty story, nor is everything in it what you might expect. Sporting two-inch-long fingernails and painted toenails, ARA kingpin Peter Langan "did not fit the stereotype of a 'typical' American neo-Nazi." Shaved completely except for his dyed, shoulder-length mane, "he had been taking black-market birth control pills" for months, and in the shoot-out before his capture, he didn't fire any of his many weapons. A preoperative transsexual, he was "a poster boy for Nazi homoeroticism," who resisted arrest because of "a conflict between his female personality and his role as the leader of the supermasculine" ARA. With more oblique twists and turns than fiction could sustain, Hamm's exploration of the underground that nurtured the likes of Tim McVeigh reminds us that, Osama bin Laden notwithstanding, homegrown kooks remain a threat. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved