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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond Paperback – November 16, 2005
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I don't know quite how I came across Mark Ames' "Going Postal". No doubt I was researching books in its subject area- for one thing, having read Brooks Brown's "No Easy Answers" I was interested in learning more about its subject matter. I recall finding its title- unusual. The words jump out at you, unashamed of any offense they may cause. And this book will offend- don't doubt that. It will definitely offend admirers of Ronald Reagan- Mark Ames must hate him more than anybody else, ever. But out of all those who read, learn, and understand what Mark Ames has to say here, the only ones who will remain offended are those who don't want the truth told. With everything that Mark Ames claims or declares, he has plenty of sources to back his points up and a willingness to explain each of them.
This book is for the subject of rampage shootings as a whole what Brooks Brown's "No Easy Answers" is for school shootings and, more specifically, Columbine. Brooks focuses only on the shooting at *his* school. Ames not only references Columbine numerous times- and "No Easy Answers", as it turns out- but every post office and office shooting I've ever heard of up to 2005. To put it another way, "No Easy Answers" does a magnificent job of describing one base while "Going Postal" describes the whole ballpark.
I had never expected to find school shootings, office & post office shootings, and slave rebellions, mostly in the antebellum South, all talked about in the same book. What surprised me even more was how relevant to one another Ames shows them to be. Much as slavery was so confidently accepted and believed to be understood by people of *its* time, Ames tells us, so do we with great confidence accept and believe to understand the common office and school environments today.
And he poses some very interesting points and questions about the rebels of those respective times. We all accept the social environment that produced slavery as wrong, and totally condemn slavery itself. Ames raises the question- what if even Columbine came to be viewed the same way? What if in time the hysteria died down and it turned out something in the environment around them, not just pure evil, drove Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to do what they did?
Oh, I can just *feel* the controversy. I didn't even write this book, and I can feel it. But trust me- it's not when somebody is asking questions that you need to be worried. It's when *nobody* is asking questions that you need to be worried.
Mark Ames goes against every accepted, 'normal', explanation of rampage shootings. He attacks every point the established 'experts' have, and does so with great enthusiasm. Ames all but laughs Dave Cullen out of this book, ridiculing not only Cullen's undeserved status as the sole 'expert' on Columbine but Cullen's own book- and even some of his newspaper articles- and the points he makes in them. Ames discusses what he feels are the real reasons for slave rebellions in their time and the office, post office, and school rampages of today. Throughout the book, quotes from various individuals and sources are found, used very tastefully and as a nice finishing effect. Ames also discusses not only these rampages, these uprisings, themselves, but the social and economic changes in America between 1965/1970 and the then-present of 2005- a present which is little altered today. And he assaults the legacy of Ronald Reagan, and to a lesser extent George Washington, so viciously you really have to read the book and see it for yourself.
But nowhere in this book, and I mean *nowhere*, did I find mere angry ranting. I can find any number of political books, news articles, and TV shows if I want that. What I found in "Going Postal" is what I found in Brooks Brown's magnificent book, but to an even greater extent and covering a greater subject area- the words of someone who knows the truth, knows telling it will be going against the tide, the accepted norm, but goes ahead and does it anyway. I said this reviewing "No Easy Answers", and I'll say it again here: read Dave Cullen's "Columbine" if you're interested in what you want to know. Read this book if you'd rather learn what you *need* to know.
Ames believes many of the "lone nut" school and workplace shootings that have exploded across America in the last 30 years are actually a form of "slave rebellion" against predatory, cruel, and self-dealing "leaders." When you look at the dehumanizing schools and brutal offices in which we spend most of our lives...well, I was sold by page 2.
If you need to think the world corporate America has constructed for the rest of us makes sense, can be a happy place, and is a system where true progress is possible...well, I have a subprime mortgage deal for you. The current financial debacle hadn't happened yet when this book was published, but sadly, these frauds make Ames' case for crumbling American safety, freedom, and dignity just that much stronger.
If you're ready to think about your daily life in an entirely new way that shows why so many things in American life no longer work for most of us...and why so few of us fight back effectively...you can't do better than this book.