Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America Hardcover – April 9, 2018
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“Compelling…Meticulously researched and powerfully argued, Belew’s book isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home…Bring the War Home is a grim and sobering read―and, for many, it may arrive as a much-needed and troubling revelation: The sheer size of white-power extremism since Vietnam is frightening…The power of Belew’s book comes, in part, from the fact that it reveals a story about white-racist violence that we should all already know.”―Patrick Blanchfield, The Nation
“[Belew] presents a gorgeously rendered account of the white power movement in this country that reveals its symbiotic character, one that both feeds on mainstream angst and stimulates it to new heights.”―Robert L. Tsai, Los Angeles Review of Books
“This is a work of fierce intelligence. In a breathtaking and wholly convincing manner, Belew shows how white power activists used their view of the Vietnam War to advance every element of their reactionary agenda and to justify domestic terrorism. A book of signal importance and urgency, it provides a haunting vantage point on contemporary American political culture.”―Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
“Fascinating…Belew connects seemingly disparate events like the killings at Greensboro, the persecution of Vietnamese fishers in Texas in the early 1980s, and the siege at Ruby Ridge. She shows how hatred of the federal government, fears of communism, and racism all combined in white-power ideology and explains why our responses to the movement have long been woefully inadequate.”―Rebecca Onion, Slate
“Superbly comprehensive…supplants all journalistic accounts of America’s resurgent white supremacism.”―Pankaj Mishra, The Guardian
“Kathleen Belew’s vital new book begins in the belly of a Huey helicopter somewhere over South Vietnam. From there she follows with unflinching honesty the violence that violence begat, from the tiny cadre of veterans who decided to bring the war home through Ruby Ridge and Waco to the horror of the Oklahoma City terrorist attack. Over the years I’ve read any number of exemplary histories. Never have I read a more courageous one.”―Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
“Bring the War Home is a tour de force. An utterly engrossing and piercingly argued history that tracks how the seismic aftershocks of the Vietnam War gave rise to a white power movement whose toxic admixture of violent bigotry, antigovernmental hostility, and racial terrorism helped set the stage for Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, and, yes, the presidency of Donald Trump.”―Junot Díaz
“This is a troubling book for many reasons, not just because of the scope of the white power network it reveals, though that is both disturbing and an important corrective to the insistence that white terrorists are ‘lone wolves’ who act spontaneously and independently of one another…[It] raises questions about how the elements of United States culture that valorize violence and draw ready distinctions between the deserving ‘us’ and the less deserving ‘them’ (or between people and animals, to use an even more recent variation on the theme) contribute to mass shootings…Belew treats the trajectory of white power victimhood as a shift from attacks on the other to a declaration of war against the federal government. It appears, in that sense, to be a rejection of the constitutional order.”―Elizabeth Dale, Jotwell
“Alarming and meticulously researched.”―Wajahat Ali, NYR Daily
About the Author
- ASIN : 0674286073
- Publisher : Harvard University Press; 1st Edition (April 9, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780674286078
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674286078
- Item Weight : 2.9 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I’d like to believe this is just sloppy research on the author’s part and not part of her agenda in pushing a false narrative, but…
Here’s the text from the paperback version, the last paragraph on page 197. I’ve numbered each sentence.
“(1) On August 21, 1992, the Weaver’s Labrador retriever sensed intruders – federal marshals conducting routine reconnaissance of the mountaintop. (2) The dog ran toward the strangers, followed by Randy Weaver, Kevin Harris, and Sammy Weaver. (3) The marshals shot the dog, and the separatists returned fire, Harris killing marshal William Degan. (4) Marshals returned fire, killing Sammy Weaver with a shot in the back. (5) Randy Weaver and Harris placed his body in the birthing shed and took cover in the cabin. (6) They kept the rest of the agents pinned down with gunfire until nightfall, when the agents had to be rescued.”
(1) This wasn’t “routine reconnaissance.” There were two groups of three marshals that day, and one of their objectives was to locate and kill the dogs to avoid future detection. The dog didn’t just “sense” intruders – the marshals lured the dog out by throwing stones at the cabin. The surviving marshals testified to this during the trial.
(2) This sentence implies that all three were together during the confrontation – that’s wrong. The three “separatists” separated with Kevin Harris and Sammy Weaver going one way and Randy Weaver going another. Randy Weaver encountered the marshals and fled back to the cabin yelling for the others to flee as well. Coming from another direction, Kevin and Sammy ran into the marshals (dressed in camouflaged gear and not identifying themselves as LEOs) and saw their dog shot and killed.
(3) “Returned fire” is somewhat misleading. If I remember correctly, Sammy Weaver fired 1-2 shots; Kevin Harris claimed he fired only one shot as he fled after Sammy was killed. It also is unclear that Harris killed Degan – the possibility exists that he was killed by friendly fire – this was also testified to at the trial.
(4) OK, this sentence is accurate enough, although Sammy Weaver had already been shot in the arm and was running away when he was killed.
(5) This sentence implies that everything occurred contemporaneously. It didn’t. Randy Weaver returns to the cabin and is met there by Kevin Harris who tells him that his son is dead. Later that same day, Randy Weaver, Harris, and Vicki Weaver return to the shooting site (there’s no marshals there at that time) and remove Sammy’s body to the birthing shed – and then, yes, they return to the cabin.
(6) This is the most egregious misstatement in this whole paragraph. The remaining two agents may have had to be “rescued”, but no other shots were fired at LEOs by anyone up on Ruby Ridge after that first exchange of gunfire. The marshals lied about being pinned down for hours and taking sniper fire. Their lies set the stage for the government response and the FBI shootings that happen the next day. That the remaining five marshals were not “pinned down” is also part of the trial testimony and backed by physical evidence collected at the scene – there is no doubt this sentence is completely false and the author should know that.
The public at-large would not trace the connections between, say, the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in my home state of Georgia, and the disappointment that was the Viet Nam War. On a collective scale, I too would not have so clearly linked the life trajectories of some of my high school friends who served in Nam with their, to me, aberrant distrust of contemporary government.
Moreover, there are social echoes of would-be military service even among the college educated in this white power ideology. A sitting judge in GA, imbued with his father’s and his own later military experiences, argued me down a few years ago to never trust the government. And, moreover, the 2nd Amendment was our only defense against a corrupt “gubment”...even though he was a member of one branch of that local government himself!
His cherished pictures of his father and himself in uniform were reminiscent of the era in the South with sitting rooms decorated in dusty oil paintings of Colonel Beauregard, a daft uncle who served in The Lost Cause of Northern Aggression. I forget that there remain such rooms in the Deep South. But they exist outside those geographic boundaries as well.
Kathleen Belew tells us of other such rooms but decorated in GI Joe battle fatigues, Nazi symbols, Rhodesian flags, a brand of perverted religion called Christian Identity, and laced with racial hatred ever as much as was that proffered by the faded Uncle Colonel Beauregard. How these social dynamics wind their way toward the main stream today in political power and culture is a core outcome of this important new book. To understand the present, we must understand the past half century since the Viet Nam War was ended by politics but not victory.
Professor Belew’s interview on Fresh Air by Terry Gross led me to her book. The interview exuded the air of scholarship by someone who fully understood the depths of the movement, it’s roots, and how it has wound its tentacles of racial animus into the 2016 Presidential Election. The read of the book after downloading to my Kindle app proved more than worth the price of admission! Well written, which can be challenging for contemporary history, the book leads the reader through the psychological chains that a critical segment of Vietnam Nam vets returned home with. They’ve not yet removed them. Indeed, many have died, often killing innocent bystanders as the point of their Rambo-style terrorism, rather than take them off. Indeed, Rambo’s cultural namesake, Bo Gritz, plays a central role in Belew’s narrative. But there are so many others that await the reader.
Having the upshot of this “we didn’t get to finish our war” tirade gob-smack my personal life, which further validates the author’s thesis, was when the sitting Judge insisted to me that the murdered children in Newtown CT was just the cost of doing business in protecting the 2nd Amendment. And, yes, the Judge believes that it was a government conspiracy by President Obama and the Liberals to come for our guns. (I guess President Obama just forget to execute that order.) The sociologist C. Wright Mills once said that when history intersects your personal biography is when social science really becomes alive. And, to use a contemporary phrase, you can’t make this stuff up!
Belew’s work, Bringing no the War Home, certainly lived up to its title. It touched me through personal relations with high school classmates and other acquaintances who served in Nam, whereas I did not as a college deferment recipient. They all brought home varying gauges of these mental shackles that Belew so vividly describes in this work. If you were born in the latter years of the Baby Boom, I’ll bet it will touch many of the relationships that you’ve had with Viet Nam vets too.
Top reviews from other countries
The movement is based on the Turner Diaries and involves many ex military who, having been trained for combat, seek combat within America to establish a White-only sector within America.