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In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground

3.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1555534929
ISBN-10: 1555534929
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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555534929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555534929
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,772,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Woods on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author has offered himself as an expert in the field as a PhD, university criminology professor and author of numerous related materials.

Throughout the entire book there is not one footnote, not one attribution to connect definitive statements (statements offered as fact in most instances) or quotes to actual and credible sources. Instead, in the "Notes" section, the author states, "To facilitate the narrative, sources for each chapter have been gathered into one single note." Then follows a list of references grouped by chapter. This is hardly an authoritative or scholarly method to support a work product that makes such significant conclusions; allegedly based on factual research.

Most of the conspiracy conclusions are centered on the thinnest of speculation by claiming broad overlapping timelines based on some simplistic statistical probability that allegedly connect Timothy McVeigh to Peter Langan, Richard Lee Guthrie, and others, and the Aryan Republican Army (ARA) to the Oklahoma City bombing.

The problem with the conclusions is that none of the source material is properly identified and quoted, or, is erroneously used to prove a weak theory.

For instance, the author bases much of his conclusions on the ninety-one page FBI initial two-week debriefing (FD-302) of Guthrie and Guthrie's "manuscript" (a 315 page handwritten story, entitled The Taunting Bandits, he wrote in jail between his arrest in January and his suicide in July 1996). I for one know that material because I wrote the FD-302, spent hundreds of hours with Guthrie, read the "manuscript" carefully, along with all the other material of an extensive nearly four year FBI investigation into ARA and its bank robbery and white supremacist activities.
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Format: Hardcover
When Hamm sticks to telling the story of Pete Langan and his Aryan Republican Army cohorts, he does a passable job. His sometimes huge jumps in logic to connect Tim McVeigh to the ARA muddy the book. Hamm does not make as strong a case as he thinks when trying to convince a reader that McVeigh was tied to these guys. Hamm's thesis is that McVeigh was a "slash-and-burn" terrorist who didn't have the skill, patience or brains to plan a big project on his own (in his previous "Apocalypse," he makes the case that McVeigh was also a drug addict). Yet the guy sat silently and patiently for six years in prison and went to his death without opening his mouth while Langan told Hamm his story and Richard Guthrie chose prison suicide over time in the slammer. For a not-too-bright "slash-and-burn" criminal, McVeigh did pretty well keeping his mouth shut and being patient. A lot of the connections Hamm makes seem not too well grounded in fact. For example, he discusses a letter he received from McVeigh's Death Row pal David Hammer in reply to one Hamm sent to McVeigh about a robbery mentioned in the book. McVeigh supposedly tells Hammer to write back with the names of guys from the ARA, thereby proving to Hamm that McVeigh is acquainted with these guys. The content of the letter and any follow-up with Hammer or McVeigh then die in their tracks. There's not a lot of good reporting here, just a lot of theories.
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Format: Hardcover
this book explains the workings of terrorists and their motivations. the book is easy to read and understand. it is a book that everyone needs to read if they want credible information about terrorists.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is full of LIES! Hamm was court ordered to STOP selling this book! See ScottStedeford.com and read Scott's letter.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Hamm has written a silly book. If he would just call it fiction stop pretending that it is an academic work it would be more honest - but then it would not be as good as books by Joseph Wambaugh or John Grisham.
For the record the largest FBI probe in history (prior to Sept. 11) investigated the Oklahoma City bombing for years and found none of the conspiracies that Hamm writes about.
Hamm claims that his subjects ("targets" would be a more appropriate word) - right-wingers - are motivated by "conspiracy theories." But he himself concocts a ridiculous conspiracy theory in which a half dozen sexually perverted teenagers - who would stick out in San Francisco much less the Midwest - run around the country for months robbing banks and planting bombs - all the while eluding the FBI.
This book reads like a long press release from the Anti-Defamation League or the Southern Poverty Law Center trying to drum up contributions to stop "white supremacy" - e.g. the silly rantings of poor, working-class white kids who, far from being supreme, have neither power, education, or influence in American society.
....
Hamm's silly conspiracy-mongering is a sad indictment of Indiana State University which allows him to masquerade as a criminologist.
....
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lifelong native of Oklahoma City, I undertook to read this book with an open mind regarding whether McVeigh and Nichols might have been part of a larger plot.

Hamm's detailed exposition of the largely-pre-internet self-styled 'patriot' fringe, provides readers with something of greater value than simple answers -- In Bad Company gives a a tangible and lurid slice of life view into the meth-fueled world of troubled men who fancied themselves heroes, but who inflicted great harm. To read In Bad Company is as though to slip into the bravado of the gun shows, the rancid sordidness of endless seamy motel rooms, the raggedy crystalline chemical delusions.

It is a sense of the times, the rootlessness of men who traveled the highways in search of a past they did not know, patterning themselves as knights of some chivalric code, all the while indulging in giddy crime and destruction. Claiming higher cause, they degraded themselves in disturbing ways, and harmed every life they touched. The book is a slice of life peek into a time and a place; a time of discord, and a place, the farmlands, highways, and small towns of America's Midwest and Great Plains -- under economic duress.

Read it not for 'answers', but for 'color', for a sense of the times. In Bad Company is a work of genius. Not so much for the quality of its investigative reporting (upon which I have no qualifications to comment), but for the haunting lucidity of its detail.

Were McVeigh, Nichols, and Fortier peripherally connected to the ARA bank robbers? Maybe, maybe not. But they were part of the same milieu, the same culture; one little studied.

But one which we would be wise to study.
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