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Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence

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From the bestselling author of  Public Enemies  &  The Big Rich , an account of the battle between the FBI & revolutionary movements of the '70s: Weathermen, The Symbionese Liberation Army, The FALN, The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, but then bombings by domestic underground groups were daily occurrences. The FBI combated these & other groups as nod From the bestselling author of  Public Enemies  &  The Big Rich , an account of the battle between the FBI & revolutionary movements of the '70s: Weathermen, The Symbionese Liberation Army, The FALN, The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, but then bombings by domestic underground groups were daily occurrences. The FBI combated these & other groups as nodes of a single revolutionary underground dedicated to the violent overthrow of the USA. Burrough's Days of Rage recreates an atmosphere almost unbelievable decades later, conjuring a time of native-born radicals, often nice middle-class kids, smuggling bombs into skyscrapers & detonating them inside the Pentagon & the Capitol, at a Boston courthouse & a Wall Street restaurant. The FBI’s response included the formation of a secret task force, Squad 47, dedicated to hunting the groups down. But Squad 47 itself broke laws in its attempts to bring the revolutionaries to justice. Its efforts ended in fiasco. Drawing on interviews about their experiences with members of the underground & the FBI, Days of Rage is a look into the hearts & minds of homegrown terrorists & federal agents alike, weaving their stories into a secret history of the '70s.


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From the bestselling author of  Public Enemies  &  The Big Rich , an account of the battle between the FBI & revolutionary movements of the '70s: Weathermen, The Symbionese Liberation Army, The FALN, The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, but then bombings by domestic underground groups were daily occurrences. The FBI combated these & other groups as nod From the bestselling author of  Public Enemies  &  The Big Rich , an account of the battle between the FBI & revolutionary movements of the '70s: Weathermen, The Symbionese Liberation Army, The FALN, The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, but then bombings by domestic underground groups were daily occurrences. The FBI combated these & other groups as nodes of a single revolutionary underground dedicated to the violent overthrow of the USA. Burrough's Days of Rage recreates an atmosphere almost unbelievable decades later, conjuring a time of native-born radicals, often nice middle-class kids, smuggling bombs into skyscrapers & detonating them inside the Pentagon & the Capitol, at a Boston courthouse & a Wall Street restaurant. The FBI’s response included the formation of a secret task force, Squad 47, dedicated to hunting the groups down. But Squad 47 itself broke laws in its attempts to bring the revolutionaries to justice. Its efforts ended in fiasco. Drawing on interviews about their experiences with members of the underground & the FBI, Days of Rage is a look into the hearts & minds of homegrown terrorists & federal agents alike, weaving their stories into a secret history of the '70s.

30 review for Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Allen

    Bryan Burrough, from what I've read, was a consultant for the "Dallas Morning Journal" and "Vanity Fair". With the way he treats the cultural phenomenon of radical vs. police violence in the 1970's ( it was just insanity with no external cause and we can shake our head in wonderment and sanctimony about it) I'm not all that shocked. Given that he seems to know his material to a meticulous point, this makes his doe-eyed routine--"how could this happen?!"--even more offensive. Tale after tale of th Bryan Burrough, from what I've read, was a consultant for the "Dallas Morning Journal" and "Vanity Fair". With the way he treats the cultural phenomenon of radical vs. police violence in the 1970's ( it was just insanity with no external cause and we can shake our head in wonderment and sanctimony about it) I'm not all that shocked. Given that he seems to know his material to a meticulous point, this makes his doe-eyed routine--"how could this happen?!"--even more offensive. Tale after tale of the Black Liberation Army and the FBI, the Weathermen, and the even the Symbionese Liberation Army are squeezed and rinsed till Mr. Burrough can is satisfied that the stories are rinsed and rewound till even J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO look *almost heroic*.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tom Breen

    The violent fringe of the American left that operated in the 1970s and 1980s is a puzzlingly overlooked phenomenon, but unfortunately, this book - for all the welcome information it newly brings to light - isn't quite the definitive history of that fringe that it purports to be. The problem is that Burrough simultaneously includes too much and too little in this 500+ page account. Clearly a prodigious reporter, Burrough assembles his account of groups like the Weather Underground, the Black Liber The violent fringe of the American left that operated in the 1970s and 1980s is a puzzlingly overlooked phenomenon, but unfortunately, this book - for all the welcome information it newly brings to light - isn't quite the definitive history of that fringe that it purports to be. The problem is that Burrough simultaneously includes too much and too little in this 500+ page account. Clearly a prodigious reporter, Burrough assembles his account of groups like the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and beyond-obscure grouplets like the United Freedom Front from a trove of newly-released FBI documents, court records, contemporary news accounts, and interviews with many of the people involved, some speaking publicly for the first time. All that is laudable. The problem is that the book often feels like what journalists call a "notebook dump": at times, it seems Burrough wants to tell us everything he's found out, down to the precise ordering of turns that Weather Underground drivers took to avoid law enforcement tails on a particular night in 1971. Some of the insights into life underground is fascinating, but repeated descriptions of bomb specifications, techniques for obtaining false IDs, and the meandering journeys from safehouse to safehouse become, after a while, numbing. At times, it seems like Burrough has mistaken information that was difficult to obtain with information that is valuable to have. The other problem - what he leaves out - is more serious, because his ambition is to write the first definitive history of an important chapter in American history. But it's the rest of that history that's missing from this book: in other words, there's virtually no contextual explanation of the times in which these acts took place. Again and again, Burrough portrays the various armed radicals of his tale as deluded, psychotic or foolhardy, which they may well have been; but he falls into the trap of assuming that they were universally regarded as anachronistic throwbacks to "the Sixties" as early as 1970, which is simply not the case. Absent from this book is any sense that the 1970s were arguably the high water mark of the postwar American left, as evinced by everything from the strike wave of the first half of the decade to the Equal Rights Amendment, Roe vs. Wade, the fall of Richard Nixon, and the cultural capitulation of Middle America to styles and behavior that had seemed alienating and threatening during the previous decade. In this atmosphere, talk of revolution was not as ridiculous as Burrough tells us it was again and again, although only a handful of people thought guerrilla violence was the way to bring the revolution about. A little more context and a bit more editorial guidance could have made this book essential, but as it is there's plenty here for students of the period.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    Having come of age in the 1960's, I was very interested in reading this book. Bryan Burrough has done an extensive amount of research into a very difficult topic. The people who were part of The Underground are given pseudonyms if they are even interviewed at all. As the author says, he was able to make contact with them only through a group of about fifteen lawyers who represented almost every Underground member who went to trial. I found the information about the different groups fascinating bu Having come of age in the 1960's, I was very interested in reading this book. Bryan Burrough has done an extensive amount of research into a very difficult topic. The people who were part of The Underground are given pseudonyms if they are even interviewed at all. As the author says, he was able to make contact with them only through a group of about fifteen lawyers who represented almost every Underground member who went to trial. I found the information about the different groups fascinating but I have to take issue with some of what Mr. Burrough writes. He states that "the underground groups of the 1970's were a product of - a kind of grungy bell bottomed coda to - the raucous protest marches and demonstrations of the 1960's. As a participant in some of these protests during the 60's, I disagree with this description. The protests I was part of were organized and peaceful. It was only when the police tried to break them up that chaos prevailed. He feels strongly that during the 1970's "the underground movement was truly about - what it was always about - was the plight of black Americans." He is perspicacious at identifying the different groups, their connection, and motivation. He states that "At the end of the '60's, it was violent black rhetoric that galvanized the people who went underground." What he doesn't mention is that in 1967, flower power was at its peak in Haight Ashbury and that Civil Rights was being led by a peaceful leader named Martin Luther King who was later assassinated. Mr. Burrough categorizes members of the underground as communists. I think that is a naive description. I believe that many of them were anarchists, trying to overthrow a government with nothing in their plans to replace it. I find it amazing that during 1972, there were more than nineteen hundred bombs detonated in the United States and people didn't think much of it at all. When we think of a domestic bombing today, people think of terrorism first and foremost and fear is very real. I don't think it is possible to write about the 1970's without first examining the peace movement of the 1960's. The 1970's consisted of more than a lunatic fringe. In the underground were people who truly believed that a peaceful protest was no longer effective and that some other form of demonstration was more applicable. I think of Kent State and the slaughter there. Some of the underground were probably thinking of that as well. I in no way endorse what happened with the underground during the 1970's. I don't believe in bombings or the violent stand taken by many underground groups. I just think that Mr. Burrough looks at things though a microscopic eye and needs a broader lens to get a true picture of the times and its history. This book is very well-written and is a page-turner despite its length.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ted Morgan

    In 1972 the United States have over 1900 public bombing but it was no revolution but rather often a deadly but absurdist acting out of self-deluded radicals who lacked political insight but who loved romantic theatre. This is a fine telling of a long bloody interval in our recent history that might well account for how many people dislike or detest the notion of radical political change. Mr. Burrough narrates his account of absurdist but violent radicals in great detail and with understanding of In 1972 the United States have over 1900 public bombing but it was no revolution but rather often a deadly but absurdist acting out of self-deluded radicals who lacked political insight but who loved romantic theatre. This is a fine telling of a long bloody interval in our recent history that might well account for how many people dislike or detest the notion of radical political change. Mr. Burrough narrates his account of absurdist but violent radicals in great detail and with understanding of the culprits without supporting their craziness. He is a superb storyteller. He somehow sympathetically tells the stories of armed robbers, murderers, and deluded self-important people who confused common criminality with being revolutionary. What were these folks thinking? By just one example, the Weather Underground planted bombs for seven years and none of them went to jail. I detested these firebrands, those who romanticized violence and easy rage instead of working carefully to understand the society in which we live. Some of the Weathermen grew up and did finally work constructively but before they did they showed themselves to be fools-I rarely call anyone a fool but those so-called radicals memorialized in this work were ridiculous and full of their own glorification. The radical clowns, however, were absurdists. Some of them worked day jobs to take care of their families but plotted mayhem as if they were addicted to it. They had no politics. They had theatre. The immense criminality of the Johnson and Nixon administrations was much worse than what these naive mostly young people did, of course. The F.B.I. itself is part of the story that I am not at the moment able to summarize but the underground operatives were delusional. They left us metal detectors and sniffer bomb dogs, not much else. Mr. Burrough makes an unromantic account of a bitter interval in American history. Many of the reviews of this book posted here unfairly judge the author. I believe he does a fine job of reportage. He gives flesh to what might have been dry accounts or romantic nonsense. The concluding take downs of some of the radicals by police and F.B.I. is dramatically told with attention to details like the reaction of radicals' children to the sudden arrest of their mother and father. The final congress of underground at Marilyn Buck's funeral. The reader can almost taste coffee and maybe a cupcake amid conversations of radical survivors. This is a terrific book. I do object to the author's seeming fawning over Bernardine Dohrn and her consort Bill Ayers. I remember her from the summer 1967. She was an intellectual narcissist who might have grown up or not.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Straw

    I was really looking forward to this book. I opened it up and the first paragraph of the prologue irritated me. Describing the "woman" revolutionary as still very attractive. Hmm. ok. I kept reading. I made it to ~page 100 before I threw it across the room. Women are continually described as sexual or attractive or any other bullshit misogynistic book sales kind of crap. Are they sexual? Maybe. Are the male revolutionaries described in the same sense, hell no. Does it matter? Debatable.....This I was really looking forward to this book. I opened it up and the first paragraph of the prologue irritated me. Describing the "woman" revolutionary as still very attractive. Hmm. ok. I kept reading. I made it to ~page 100 before I threw it across the room. Women are continually described as sexual or attractive or any other bullshit misogynistic book sales kind of crap. Are they sexual? Maybe. Are the male revolutionaries described in the same sense, hell no. Does it matter? Debatable.....This may be how you sell books, but it is deeply disappointing and sexist.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I'm not actually done yet, but I'll feel exactly the same way when I'm done as I do now. The history is fascinating- I developed a crush on the Weather Underground as a hippie high schooler- but the author is a pompous ass. Obsessed (OBSEEEESSED) with Bernardine Dohrn's sexuality. She had other stuff going on than boobs, bro. And also clearly repulsed by the entire radical movement of the late 60s and early 70s, such that I kept thinking (THEN WHY DID YOU WRITE 580 PAGES ABOUT IT?!!). Some reall I'm not actually done yet, but I'll feel exactly the same way when I'm done as I do now. The history is fascinating- I developed a crush on the Weather Underground as a hippie high schooler- but the author is a pompous ass. Obsessed (OBSEEEESSED) with Bernardine Dohrn's sexuality. She had other stuff going on than boobs, bro. And also clearly repulsed by the entire radical movement of the late 60s and early 70s, such that I kept thinking (THEN WHY DID YOU WRITE 580 PAGES ABOUT IT?!!). Some really charming uses of "the blacks" and "ghetto" as phrases, as well. Great look, Burrough. Go back to writing for Vanity Fair, BB. Go'n ahead and re-enter your cultural bubble, buddy. It's ok. It's a scary world out here. **done now. feel the same way, but more so.**

  7. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    "And there's some rumors going 'round, someone's underground" The Eagles, Witchy Woman, 1972 Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, turned militant radical in Symbionese Liberation Army This is THE new treatise on the radical left of the 1970s, including the Weatherman from early 1970 to 1972, the Black Liberation Army from the Spring of 1971 to 1973, the Weather Underground in 1973, the Symbionese Liberation Army from November 1973 to 1974 and the FALN of the late 1970s , the last being the communis "And there's some rumors going 'round, someone's underground" The Eagles, Witchy Woman, 1972 Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, turned militant radical in Symbionese Liberation Army This is THE new treatise on the radical left of the 1970s, including the Weatherman from early 1970 to 1972, the Black Liberation Army from the Spring of 1971 to 1973, the Weather Underground in 1973, the Symbionese Liberation Army from November 1973 to 1974 and the FALN of the late 1970s , the last being the communist organization fighting for Puerto Rican "independence." This book is a thorough review of these organizations and the people behind them, some of whom were imprisoned and some who have escaped the authorities until this day. The explosives used in the bombings were mostly ineffective, but killed innocent people. I don't know that many of those responsible are truly remorseful. As the book captures, a lot of these "radicals" had a savior complex. Members of radical Black Liberation Army Jane Fonda, Jane Fonda Fan Club I think the author did as best he could with the materials he had. Mr. Burrough certainly illuminated the reasons underlying the formation of these terrorist groups - it was more due to racism than the war in Vietnam and most of the members of the primarily white factions were liberal rich kids. Yet, I found the book lacking as a compelling read in the nature of the best historical literature of late. Members of FALN, communist organization fighting for Puerto Rican "independence" If you came of age during the 1970s though, and have memories of the evening news reports of a new bombing every few weeks and surreal names like Symbionese and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, I recommend this in-depth history of a turbulent time in our nation's past. The attractive face of the radical Weather Underground, Bernadine Dohrn

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric Ruark

    From the first page to the last, this is a 5-star book, especially for someone like me who graduated college in 1971. Days of Rage covers the radical underground movement from 1969 to 1984 when domestic bombings were practically a daily occurance. These were the days of my youth, as Mr. Burrough called them "deranged times". Some of the people in the book I considered the Jesse James/Cole Youngers of my era. I was on the periphery of the Viet Nam anti-war movement. I took place in some protest From the first page to the last, this is a 5-star book, especially for someone like me who graduated college in 1971. Days of Rage covers the radical underground movement from 1969 to 1984 when domestic bombings were practically a daily occurance. These were the days of my youth, as Mr. Burrough called them "deranged times". Some of the people in the book I considered the Jesse James/Cole Youngers of my era. I was on the periphery of the Viet Nam anti-war movement. I took place in some protests, helped run one (was even threatened by the KKK for my efforts) -- so this book meant a lot to me. It filled in many of the gaps in my knowledge of what happened to the people and "causes" of the times. I can't say much more because if I did, this review would be filled with one spoiler after another. Days of Rage chronicles the events around the Weathermen; The Black Liberation Army; The Symbionese Liberation Army. (I lived in the Bay area when the SLA struck and from the get-go I never thought Patty Hearst should ever have been prosecuted for what happened to her and the events that followed); the FALN; the Family; and the United Freedom Front. Some political agendas I agreed with at the time. Others I did not. In the end, this book was a real eye opener for me. It took me into the hearts and minds of the politically inspired home-grown terrorists of my generation. Having filled in the gaps of the who, what, when and where, I came to the same conclusion as Joseph Connor (page 540 in the book and a HUGE spoiler if I told you what it was). If you are like me, this book is a must for anyone who came of age during the late 60s/early 70s. You will be surprised at how easily you can remember where you were and what you were doing on the dates mentioned in the book. I was absolutely flabbergasted by how often the paths of those underground and mine crossed whether it was in Waterbury, CT or San Francisco, CA. In the end, all I can say is read the book. You will not be disappointed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Can't give it two and a half stars, so it gets two. This book is enormously well researched, sweeping in its scope, and detailed in its history. Someone said that it has the character of a journalist's notebook-dump, but if you're interested in the period, in many cases even the tiny weird details are interesting. The book, however, suffers from its author's utter contempt for most of his subjects. Not all of them-- he seems to be kinder to those with whom he's spoken personally. But he gets off Can't give it two and a half stars, so it gets two. This book is enormously well researched, sweeping in its scope, and detailed in its history. Someone said that it has the character of a journalist's notebook-dump, but if you're interested in the period, in many cases even the tiny weird details are interesting. The book, however, suffers from its author's utter contempt for most of his subjects. Not all of them-- he seems to be kinder to those with whom he's spoken personally. But he gets off to a really creepy start by describing EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in the book in terms of how attractive they are, and really revels in details like Weather's "revolutionary" orgies. From there, once we get to the section about George Jackson and prisoner activism in the '70s, his characterization is much blunter. Virtually every single black radical (except Sekou Odinga, who seems to be the only one Burrough interviewed personally and therefore the only to whom he affords the respect of presuming he's a complex and intelligent individual capable of nuanced reflection and motivation) is described as simultaneously cunning/predatory and semi-literate. The word "thug" is used a lot, particularly to describe George Jackson--so the only reason anyone might have found his writing meaningful and touching was that they were hoodwinked by a crook who wanted to selfishly manipulate readers to his end, not because (if what Burrough says about his violence is true) he was a conflicted figure, both driven by empathy and the desire for justice as by more malignant motivations. Burrough generally presumes the vast majority of black radicals (much moreso than white radicals) aren't REALLY motivated by politics, so much as they wish to use leftist ideology as a smokescreen for their innate greed and criminality. Meanwhile, all white radicals who support black prisoner-activists are written off as naive, brainwashed, and easily led. Here's the thing: some of them were. That's human nature. The story of the SLA is ridiculous on its own without authorial commentary about how ridiculous they all are. In its slant and contempt for its subjects, Days of Rage suffers from precisely the same weakness as most radical-leaning histories of the period: it shows its hand and its sympathies early, and from that point on makes it clear (over and over) that you can't trust its characterizations. For example, a great criticism you could make of the expropriations/bank robberies executed by the FALN and the Family and Raymond Levasseur is that they appear to have used them mainly to fund... themselves. They were taking enormous amounts of money out of banks and using them, at best, to make bombs, at worst to fund their underground adventures. As a longtime red myself, I've always felt that those expropriations would have made a great deal more sense if they had used that money to fund community initiatives rather than to stage a keystone-kopkiller routine of bombings. This is one of the strangest things about the SLA-- they were an utter joke, a collection of absolute lunatics, but their kidnapping of Patty Hearst actually led to food in the mouths of poor people, which is what they set out to do, and a thing that many people consider a noble motivation. Thus the nobility of that aim contrasted against the brutality of some of the actions described in this book would, in greater consideration, make a more interesting study. (As would a simple measure of their effectiveness compared to other forms of activism taking place in the '70s, perhaps an easier project for a writer that doesn't share any form of radical sympathies.) Perhaps Levasseur and the Family poured large portions of the money they expropriated into community-building projects like free clinics, schools, and the like, but they don't seem to have, and that to me is an extremely damning epilogue to their violence. Yet I also don't trust Burrough enough to tell me if they did--he might have just left those details out. You could say this book is no worse than similar histories written from the perspective of the left, but those books are also bad, excruciating, because of their lack of objectivity. So Burrough undermines his criticism of the dogmatic language and indoctrination-speak of 70s radicals by his own language. Nowhere is this as clear as his support for the FBI's crimes that are actually on record. To his credit, he occasionally departs from his Wall Street Journal roots and admits things like yes, for example, Chicago cops pretty much murdered Fred Hampton in cold blood. But a much more interesting version of this history wouldn't paint the FBI as ultimately hand-tied heroes the way he finally does, giving them the last word of saying "they treated us like the fucking criminals!" Yes, cop, that's because you were a criminal. Armed radicals, by law (but in other cases, such as the Brinks robbery, by moral measure) were also criminals. Everyone was a criminal, and that's why the story is interesting. But Burrough intrudes even further, noting that when Mark Felt was convicted of FBI crimes, "America yawned"--though when armed radicals did anything, he's quick to underline that America, including its left, was enraged. I'm not sure if Burrough talked to America for this book, but I think most of the time America yawns, so if you say America is doing something different you're probably presenting your opinion as America's. Objective retelling makes a more interesting story, but that's not one Burrough was interested in telling. Or maybe not one he was CAPABLE of telling-- because he is a TERRIBLE writer. I had to ration the book to myself because of his agonizing purple prose alone. The thing reads like an airport-potboiler melodrama of the lowest order. Perhaps it wouldn't have been as long if they'd cut out every one of his unnecessary adjectives--we could probably lose an easy 50 pages there. But that wouldn't change his godawful choices of nouns and verbs. People don't "move," they "scurry." They don't "beliefs," they have "zeal." It's written as though he kept looking at words he had typed out and thinking, "That's not exciting enough. Let's see what Word's thesaurus gives as an alternative!" (Also, the number of times he drops salacious details in weasel-words is worth noting. Keep count of the number of times he uses "it was said that" instead of an actual report!) That style never lets up, from paragraph to paragraph, for 550 turgid pages. Reading this book is an exercise in discovering how much pain you can endure to learn from Burrough's research, which you ultimately suspect you can't really trust because of his blatant lack of objectivity. One of these days maybe someone will write an objective history of 70s armed radicalism that presumes that the ideals adherents upheld were truly felt by some but not others, that some actions had positive effects, some neutral, some negative, that there was ultimately a kaleidoscope of motivations, morals, and emotions at play on both sides, and whatever happened was the product of that complexity. This isn't that book. Burrough's deeply invested in arguing that armed radicalism accomplished nothing because it was arrogant/conniving/naive bad guys fighting against the mainly good guys of the US government/prison system and American multinational corporations, without noting the extent to which all those parties were committing abundant wrongs that made radicals feel (right or wrong) that any violent action they took would always be dwarfed by comparison. It would be interesting to see an actual measure of how much these movements accomplished, but on the left most of what we've got so far is a lot of hagiography (including self-hagiography, like Bill Ayers's), and this nonsense from the right. In each you can learn a bit of history, but you have to hold your nose the whole time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Gosztola

    No matter how much research is packed into this more than 500-page book, it is hard to get past Bryan Burrough's interest for compiling this history. Burrough is upset that most Americans—and the press—have forgotten about left-wing "terrorism" of the 1970s and how "protest bombings" occurred regularly. Burrough thinks leftists of the 1970s, who engaged in radical acts of violence, are now viewed too softly. They are terrorists to him—terrorists that should be seen as once being as dangerous as No matter how much research is packed into this more than 500-page book, it is hard to get past Bryan Burrough's interest for compiling this history. Burrough is upset that most Americans—and the press—have forgotten about left-wing "terrorism" of the 1970s and how "protest bombings" occurred regularly. Burrough thinks leftists of the 1970s, who engaged in radical acts of violence, are now viewed too softly. They are terrorists to him—terrorists that should be seen as once being as dangerous as Islamic extremists today. Personally, it appears the former Wall Street Journal reporter is infusing his storytelling with hysteria and hype to make the groups seem more threatening than they were. The secret history alone is worth recounting without grafting on fear to transform characters of the Left into boogeymen. Yet, he allows his storytelling to be influenced by a Fox News bubble that even he, an establishment journalist, is trapped inside. And since it's all about his gross fascination with all the old Lefties, who have radical roots and have not fully rejected their pasts, it's a kind of twisted almanac that ultimately does not help anyone walk away with an appropriate understanding of the time period and the battles that went on between left-wing groups, the FBI, and the wider US government.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    As I sat down to prepare a review of Bryan Burrough’s latest work, DAYS OF RAGE: AMERICA’S RADICAL UNDERGROUND, THE FBI, and THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE I learned that today a gunman had opened fire on a Navy and Marine Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., leaving four Marines dead, and a recruiter wounded. These types of what appear to be “lone gunman attacks” symbolize the increase in domestic terrorism in the United States, attacks that I fear will continue and be further exa As I sat down to prepare a review of Bryan Burrough’s latest work, DAYS OF RAGE: AMERICA’S RADICAL UNDERGROUND, THE FBI, and THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE I learned that today a gunman had opened fire on a Navy and Marine Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., leaving four Marines dead, and a recruiter wounded. These types of what appear to be “lone gunman attacks” symbolize the increase in domestic terrorism in the United States, attacks that I fear will continue and be further exacerbated by the call for even more violence by the likes of the Islamic State. I hate to say that Burrough’s book is timely as it takes the reader back to a time period in American history when domestic attacks against targets that symbolized the government, in addition to banks, corporations, and other venues was very common. Over forty years ago the United States went through a period of domestic terror that it had never experienced in its history. Groups like the Weathermen, Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), the Black Liberation Army (BLA), the Black Panthers, and the Fuerzas Armades de Liberacion Nacional Puertorriquena (FALN) as well as a number of freelance operators conducted bombings, murder, prison escapes, and robberies. Though they seemed to concentrate on New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, and Detroit, their targets were as far flung as Maine and Oregon. Many of the names will be familiar; Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Patty Hearst, Donald DeFreeze, and Mutulu Shakur. However, Burrough’s assiduous research has turned up the work of many lesser known radicals whose deadly campaign caused much greater damage and impact than those mentioned. What is fascinating is that many people have forgotten how violent this period in our history was. Burrough’s is to be commended for putting together an exceptional history of the 196o’s through the early 1980s concentrating on the rise of domestic radicalism in the United States that began as a movement against the Vietnam War, but included demonstrations against racism, discrimination against blacks, the unequal distribution of wealth, and a movement for Puerto Rican independence. Burrough’s contribution to this enormous topic is an almost encyclopedic narrative of every important radical group that appeared during the time period under discussion. He seems to have interviewed every important radical who would speak to him that is still alive, and spent a great deal of time researching the response of the FBI and New York Police Department to situations that they had a great deal of difficulty containing. What emerges is a complex story of bombing operations, including planning and implementation; sexual triangles among the radicals; sources of funding from surprising groups in society, particularly radical leftist lawyers; and a federal government that turned to many illegal weapons, from wiretaps, breaking and entering, and other methods to try and control the violence. The book is not an easy read because of the somewhat disjointed way that it is organized. There are chapters dealing with the rise of the Students for a Democratic Society and its split with the Weathermen, then it jumps to the development of the Black Panthers and the split that fostered the BLA, then returns to the Manhattan Townhouse bombing that killed a number of Weathermen. Further, after ending a discussion of the Weather Underground, Burroughs moves on to the SLA, then after discussing the Hearst kidnapping, the Weathermen return. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book revolves around the rise of the Puerto Rican independence movement that existed for decades before the FALN emerged as the most dangerous radical group that the FBI and assorted urban police forces had to deal with. The biographies of, Oscar Lopez and Carlos Torres, the leaders of the FALN, and Guillermo “Willie” Morales, the FALN bomb maker are fascinating as well as disturbing. The reader is exposed to two young FBI agents, Don Wofford and Lou Vizi, who were tasked to investigate the group, but the government had very little information to work with. Both men pursued their prey for years, but had little to show for it for a long time. Throughout the radical “movement” there was a great deal of disagreement. The leftist underground was more concerned with the plight of black Americans than being against the Vietnam War. Burroughs discusses the rise of a new generation of black militants who were influenced by Malcom X, the Cuban Revolution, and in particular the work and writing of Che Guevara. He also spends a great deal of time detailing the split between the Black Panthers and the rising Black Liberation Army. Black militants had a jaundiced view of the Weathermen because they saw them as white bourgeois types who were not militant enough. Burroughs explains the different factions within the Weathermen (later underground) movement and how its split with the SDS hindered their growth. All the important personalities are examined, including their relationships both personal and as soldiers in the “movement.” What is most obvious about the majority of underground radicals is that these young people, as Burroughs points out “fatally misjudged America’s political winds and found themselves trapped in an unwinnable struggle they were too proud or stubborn to give up.” Most of Burrough’s work is a narrative of what seems to be every major “action” taken by these radical groups which can make reading parts of the book a grind. However, throughout the book there are a series of nuggets that are very important. For example, in 1970, 23 states had little or no regulation for the sale of dynamite. It will amaze the reader how easy it was to purchase dynamite and other components to assemble a bomb, steal dynamite from construction sites, and the lack of security that existed at banks, corporations, and government venues that allowed radicals easy access to scope out their targets, and leave their explosives in bathrooms, elevators, and empty offices. Another interesting detail involves the FBI as they created the 47 Squad to try and capture and control the radicals who were determined to overthrow the American government. The tactics employed were ordered by the Nixon administration at the same time they were involved with dealing with the Watergate break in and investigation. Despite the resources and the illegal tactics employed, the FBI made little headway in arresting these people, and any successes they experienced were more the result of luck than good police work. Perhaps the most surprising thing that Burroughs unearthed was the makeup of the radical groups, particularly the SLA, BLA, and FALN. Many of their members were criminals who had served time in Soledad, Attica, and San Quentin. Some escaped, others paroled, but a significant number of “ex-cons” made up the membership of radical groups. They had meshed in prison and they became a working network of soldiers to carry out operations in what they perceived to be a revolutionary struggle. At times the narrative comes across as a “Bonnie and Clyde” type movement. Operations were funded by robbing banks, explosives are stolen, and planning takes place in a network of safe houses nationwide. Burroughs presents the major characters through mini-biographies, as well as their foot soldiers. There is really no over ridding theme to the book other than the “rage against the system” that all radicals seem to believe in. There are attempts to link some of the groups discussed and how they interacted, but in many cases it does not work. For me the material is too bifurcated at times, but overall, Burroughs has written the definitive work on his topic, particularly because of his access to many of the participants forty years later. If you are interested in this topic this book will be very satisfying, but keep in mind it is not an easy read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Hilgers

    Remember the old Elvis Costello song, "Watching the Detectives"? There have been a number of memoirs and retellings of the days after the Students for a Democratic Society essentially declared war on America's military-industrial complex in a campaign they called "bring the war home", but this is the first one I have read that focuses more on what the FBI did to track-down the underground and less on what the underground was really all about. Whether telling the story about the accidental bombin Remember the old Elvis Costello song, "Watching the Detectives"? There have been a number of memoirs and retellings of the days after the Students for a Democratic Society essentially declared war on America's military-industrial complex in a campaign they called "bring the war home", but this is the first one I have read that focuses more on what the FBI did to track-down the underground and less on what the underground was really all about. Whether telling the story about the accidental bombing of a New York brownstone when Weather Underground bomb makers came close to destroying a city block, or telling the story how the Black Liberation Army decided to declare open season on the police, Bryan Burrough leans heavily on the underground as criminality unleashed, but never delves into why such groups decided to do what they did. I was in my late teens when much of this occurred, and since I was of draft age, I was highly interested in this sliver of American history, partially because I thought the war in Vietnam was a stupid war, and partially because I didn't want to be pitched right out of college and into the Mekong Delta. Like many activists all around me, I too was upset to say the least that LBJ first signs into law the Civil and Voting Rights Acts and then turns around and sends Black men who had just received an absolute certainty regarding their right to vote straight to Vietnam--while the "fortunate sons" who had parents with connections escaped the horror happening on the other side of the world. That was not right. That will never be right. Burrough runs the gamut, telling stories about the SLA, the FALN, WU and BLA, but never mentions that unfortunate fact. He also seems to have missed a number of clues and messages to WU in particular hidden in hit songs of the day. I remember, for example, laughing pretty hard when Steely Dan asked the nation, "Can you hear me Doctor WU?", but apparently that didn't matter to Burrough, mainly because it would have indicated how many people were cheering-on the underground. This book nevertheless is informative and interesting, especially after OWS scared the patrician classes so much, and then "just faded away".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jay Hinman

    One of the best works of nonfiction I've read in a while. It's a terrific overview of 1970s homegrown American left-wing terrorism; its causes, its effects; its "legacy" and so on - plus some excellent bumbling escapades from the likes of the wacky SLA and Weather Underground, and the considerably more terrifying Black Liberation Army (especially if you were a cop). Reads like a thriller at times; superbly written and something I can imagine myself returning to again in 20 years. One of the best works of nonfiction I've read in a while. It's a terrific overview of 1970s homegrown American left-wing terrorism; its causes, its effects; its "legacy" and so on - plus some excellent bumbling escapades from the likes of the wacky SLA and Weather Underground, and the considerably more terrifying Black Liberation Army (especially if you were a cop). Reads like a thriller at times; superbly written and something I can imagine myself returning to again in 20 years.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Having read 'The Port Huron Statement', subscribing to 'Ramparts' and influenced by older high school friends, I joined the Students for a Democratic Society in 1967 or '68, identifying myself with 'the New Left' while maintaining a sentimental attachment to the old, particularly the Socialist Party. In high school this didn't amount to much, just literature in the mail and the help given by the SDS national office to our school's underground newspaper's two issues. The summer after high school, Having read 'The Port Huron Statement', subscribing to 'Ramparts' and influenced by older high school friends, I joined the Students for a Democratic Society in 1967 or '68, identifying myself with 'the New Left' while maintaining a sentimental attachment to the old, particularly the Socialist Party. In high school this didn't amount to much, just literature in the mail and the help given by the SDS national office to our school's underground newspaper's two issues. The summer after high school, however, saw the SDS holding its annual national convention in Chicago's Colosseum. Having already been accepted by Grinnell College, I was accredited a delegate from Iowa, even though I'd not set foot in the state since elementary school. Presumably, they were short on Iowa delegates. That, the convention of 1969, was the one which led to the breakup of the country's largest progressive student organization into three factions: the Progressive Labor Party, an ostensibly Maoist organization which had packed the event; Revolutionary Youth Movement I, soon renamed 'Weatherman'; and Revolutionary Youth Movement II, the faction with which I identified once it became clear that the Weathermen were headed down the path of 'revolutionary violence'. Thus, after matriculating in the fall and reporting to its SDS chapter, I ended up driving back to Chicago with five other Grinnellians, all of whom got arrested at the Days of Rage action on the north side while I stuck to the much more pacific demonstration held by RYM II at the Federal Building downtown. Although I admired the courage and conviction of those radicals, even after they started bombing what they took to be symbols of imperialism and racism, I never identified with the Weather Underground or any of the other radical activist groups which took to violent means of protest. Partly this was owing to cowardice, I suppose, but it was also consequent upon ethical and prudential considerations. Gandhi and the writings of many persons associated with The War Resisters' League had had a significant influence on me, so much so that I not only thought of myself as a radical pacifist, but also practiced a vegetarian lifestyle. Still, I'd glancingly met some of the principals of the more confrontational groups, particularly in the SDS and the Black Panthers, and followed their actions with interest while moving on from the short-lived RYM II to the Moratorium, the Mobe and the New America Movement. This book is about those questionable allies on the left. Covering the period from 1969 to 1985, Burrough focuses almost entirely on the bombers and bank-robbers, including, with the Panthers and the Weathermen, such 'organizations' as the FALN (Puerto Rican nationalists, arguably, the most serious of the bunch), the Black Liberation Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army and the United Freedom Front. Here, the text, based on interviews and thorough research, is quite detailed. What's missing, however, is the broader context and any real insight, without which one might wonder what they were all so excited about. Having lived those years with some attention and some involvement, I found this book interesting. Someone without such a background very possibly might be bored.

  15. 4 out of 5

    RandomAnthony

    Some people seemed to hate this book more than me. I didn't hate Days of Rage but I did, like a lectured teenager, roll my eyes in its direction every now and then. Mr. Burrough tells a good story but I get the sense he was jammin' some square pegs into round holes for narrative purposes here and there. Also, the "for the first time ever we can address this" claims got a bit silly. I'm already reading the book, Mr. Burrough, you don't gotta sell it again, brother. Still, I liked Days of Rage and Some people seemed to hate this book more than me. I didn't hate Days of Rage but I did, like a lectured teenager, roll my eyes in its direction every now and then. Mr. Burrough tells a good story but I get the sense he was jammin' some square pegs into round holes for narrative purposes here and there. Also, the "for the first time ever we can address this" claims got a bit silly. I'm already reading the book, Mr. Burrough, you don't gotta sell it again, brother. Still, I liked Days of Rage and learned a lot about how these different groups intertwined, etc., and my background knowledge beforehand was limited to images of black dudes holding up their fists and that Hearst woman's roles in John Waters movies. I had no fuckin' idea so many bombs exploded in the seventies. So...Days of Rage isn't bad. It's like a long magazine article. A really long magazine article.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    I think for me this book gets about a 3.5 star rating. In this book, the author looks at the "untold story of the underground era" in America, in a time frame that lasted from 1970 through 1985. It is a very detailed, chronological look at the rise and fall of several underground radical revolutionary groups that existed during this time period, exploring motivations behind their actions, as well as attempts by law enforcement (primarily the FBI, but also police departments across the country) t I think for me this book gets about a 3.5 star rating. In this book, the author looks at the "untold story of the underground era" in America, in a time frame that lasted from 1970 through 1985. It is a very detailed, chronological look at the rise and fall of several underground radical revolutionary groups that existed during this time period, exploring motivations behind their actions, as well as attempts by law enforcement (primarily the FBI, but also police departments across the country) to put an end to the violence. Combining personal interviews, written accounts and other material on both sides of the fence, he has put together what he calls a "straightforward narrative history of the period." At the same time, it seems to me that one of the biggest goals that Burrough has in mind with this book, is to break down the "myth, pure and simple," that this revolutionary violence was aimed more at specific symbols rather than people. He notes at the beginning of the book that "It is ultimately a tragic tale, defined by one unavoidable irony: that so many idealistic young Americans, passionately committed to creating a better world for themselves and those less fortunate, believed they had to kill people to do it." He also wants to "explain to people today why all this didn't seem as insane then as it does now." He examines several violent revolutionary groups here -- Weatherman (which will ultimately become Weather Underground), the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a violent offshoot of the Black Panthers whose members were in touch with Eldridge Cleaver who was then in Algeria; the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) of Patty Hearst kidnap fame; FALN, a Puerto Rican group whose members advocated for Puerto Rican independence through deadly bombings, one of which killed several people at the Fraunces Tavern in New York City; the New World Liberation Front, at work in California's Bay Area; The Family, who targeted armored cars and cops, and the United Freedom Front, the creation of Ray Levasseur, who came out of prison with a dream of becoming the leader of his own "underground army." To me, a good historical narrative is set well within the larger context, and here, a lot seems to have been left out in terms of what was going on in America, politically, economically and socially, but more to the point, what was going on with the nonviolent left at the same time. (As just one example, there's very little here on COINTELPRO and abuse of government/police powers.) What often takes its place is instead detail about the less-political side of these radical organizations (e.g. sex, drugs, and a repeated litany of violent acts), sort of throwing the politics to one side, which to me is less history than journalism, so that there are a number of times when it felt like his history verged toward more of a true-crime account. I will also note that despite the fact that he sees his work as a straightforward history of the period, Burrough does let his own judgments become pretty clear throughout the book. On the other hand, much of this story is completely new material for me, and since I wasn't anywhere close to being old enough to be involved at the time, I had no expectations political or otherwise going into this account other than how much I could possibly learn about this relatively unknown (to me) story. There were parts I found absolutely fascinating -- I had no clue that some of these groups even existed, so in terms of revisiting the "forgotten age of revolutionary violence," it was a highly-informative book and the author deserves a large amount of credit for his hard work in putting it together. It is most definitely a work that anyone interested ought to read, and keeping in mind my issues with this book, it's one I'd recommend. there's a longer version of this post at my online reading journal.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Samerdyke

    The only reason I bought this book was because it was written by Bryan Burrough, who wrote "Public Enemies," the best book on the John Dillinger era. In "Days of Rage," Burrough looks at the era of left-wing terrorists in the United States, a time that extended from the late Sixties to the mid-Eighties. This is a fascinating book, bringing to mind things that are half-forgotten, like the Patty Hearst kidnapping. "Days of Rage" is not a book about the Weather Underground. Burrough shows that terrori The only reason I bought this book was because it was written by Bryan Burrough, who wrote "Public Enemies," the best book on the John Dillinger era. In "Days of Rage," Burrough looks at the era of left-wing terrorists in the United States, a time that extended from the late Sixties to the mid-Eighties. This is a fascinating book, bringing to mind things that are half-forgotten, like the Patty Hearst kidnapping. "Days of Rage" is not a book about the Weather Underground. Burrough shows that terrorism included more groups, such as the Black Liberation Army and the Puerto Rican FALN, as well as other groups. He strikes the right note in discussing the era, neither sentimentalizing it or issuing easy judgments. It is something of a depressing book, but it is important, in that it shows that in every era there will be disaffected people who will use violence to solve their problems. The FBI doesn't come out particularly well. Ironically, the Bureau was most successful against the smallest group in the book (although after many years). Weather and FALN were crippled by problems with accidental explosions. The desire to break Weather led the FBI into illegal actions that ultimately harmed the Bureau. Local police departments often faced the brunt of these terrorist actions and scored a lot of successes as well. A fascinating book on a forgotten era of recent American history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alli

    I'm stopping this half-way through. The author should have included a dedication. Dear Bill O'Reilly, I didn't pal around with terrorists. These aren't my politics. Love, Bryan. Instead, he infused his writing with the same message. He distanced himself from the book's subjects by failing to fully humanize them and writing in moral judgments. I didn't need to be told when each group crossed a line or for for Burrough to act like a horrified father watching his daughter's first orgy. I understand t I'm stopping this half-way through. The author should have included a dedication. Dear Bill O'Reilly, I didn't pal around with terrorists. These aren't my politics. Love, Bryan. Instead, he infused his writing with the same message. He distanced himself from the book's subjects by failing to fully humanize them and writing in moral judgments. I didn't need to be told when each group crossed a line or for for Burrough to act like a horrified father watching his daughter's first orgy. I understand that the people he interviewed are now much older, but does he need to write everything from the perspectives of disgust? I also don't feel comfortable that Bernardette Dohrn is portrayed as a manic-militant-dream-girl. I would have preferred to learn more about a person than selected sexy stories recounted by men (and apparently women) who wanted to sleep with her. On the bright side, it has a fantastic cover.

  19. 5 out of 5

    StevenF

    With all this research information, Burrough's completely fails to grasp the Underground,the reason for its existence or its historic relevance to Justice issues past and present. Ironically, he continually places it out of context to The Sixties (1963-1974). All this important access and breadth of materials in the wrong shallow sometimes contemptuous hands. Tricky Dick Nixon and Crazy J. Edgar Hoover would be smiling. I fought back in The Sixties.This does not tell the story. What an unfortun With all this research information, Burrough's completely fails to grasp the Underground,the reason for its existence or its historic relevance to Justice issues past and present. Ironically, he continually places it out of context to The Sixties (1963-1974). All this important access and breadth of materials in the wrong shallow sometimes contemptuous hands. Tricky Dick Nixon and Crazy J. Edgar Hoover would be smiling. I fought back in The Sixties.This does not tell the story. What an unfortunate fucking waste.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bill Sleeman

    Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence is an excellent and well researched book that captures not just the familiar, headline capturing revolutionaries of the 1960s but also the not so familiar figures and violence of the 1980s. While it is politics at the core the “revolution” was about people and author Bryan Burrough does a wonderful job exploring the human side of the various movements. Even when I found their actions repulsive I Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence is an excellent and well researched book that captures not just the familiar, headline capturing revolutionaries of the 1960s but also the not so familiar figures and violence of the 1980s. While it is politics at the core the “revolution” was about people and author Bryan Burrough does a wonderful job exploring the human side of the various movements. Even when I found their actions repulsive I found their outsized personalities fascinating. Excellent!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    If this were fiction, it would be completely unbelievable. I didn't realize the extent of bombing campaigns in the (60s, 80s, but mostly 70s) period, the degree of incompetence and ideological motivation in those groups, lack of competence in law enforcement at the time, and incredibly light sentences most of the terrorists received. There's nothing in modern politics which even approaches this level of insanity. If this were fiction, it would be completely unbelievable. I didn't realize the extent of bombing campaigns in the (60s, 80s, but mostly 70s) period, the degree of incompetence and ideological motivation in those groups, lack of competence in law enforcement at the time, and incredibly light sentences most of the terrorists received. There's nothing in modern politics which even approaches this level of insanity.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    If you're involved in the resistance in any way, this is a must read. If you're curious about how leftist activism becomes fascist or violent, this is a must read. Basically read it. Also, the audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter, my audiobook crush❤. Engrossing start to finish. If you're involved in the resistance in any way, this is a must read. If you're curious about how leftist activism becomes fascist or violent, this is a must read. Basically read it. Also, the audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter, my audiobook crush❤. Engrossing start to finish.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh Friedlander

    I found this book via a guest post on Status 451, but the author's conclusion - that the near-forgotten age of radical-left violence in America was incredibly violent, and the perpetrators (at least the white ones) mostly walked back into the middle-class respectability they emerged from - is only half right. The book opens in the late 60s, when it seemed like radical ideas might change the world, and revolution was just around the corner. That didn't happen, but there was something of a cultura I found this book via a guest post on Status 451, but the author's conclusion - that the near-forgotten age of radical-left violence in America was incredibly violent, and the perpetrators (at least the white ones) mostly walked back into the middle-class respectability they emerged from - is only half right. The book opens in the late 60s, when it seemed like radical ideas might change the world, and revolution was just around the corner. That didn't happen, but there was something of a cultural victory. America, as Burroughs puts it, wanted the revolution, just not the violence. During what Tom Wolfe called the "Me decade" individualism and alternative lifestyles became commonplace, and American cities filled up with Afros, Hari Krishna and bell-bottoms. Burroughs, perhaps best known as a business journalist (his book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco still sets the standard for the genre), tells an entertaining tale, beginning with the Weathermen (later swapped for the gender-neutral Weather Underground) splitting from the SDS and going underground. Their serious bombing career basically began and ended in a posh Manhattan townhouse (Dustin Hoffman lived next door) belonging to a member's parents. The bombmaker accidentally blew himself up, the cops arrived and the movement scattered underground. The leadership mostly spent their time underground living on a boat in California, getting handouts from sympathetic above-ground friends, generally not doing much to foment global revolution, and eventually ending up as trendy leftist activists, visiting Occupy and chilling with the Obamas. Essentially, WUers like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn were a bunch of not very successful student radicals who mostly blew up toilets and didn't kill anyone. On the other hand, there were more dangerous groups, like the Black Liberation Army who targeted cops and the Puerto Rico independence movement FLAN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña). One of the best stories in the book is that of FLAN bombmaker Willie Morales, who evades a huge police dragnet but is eventually captured after a bomb he is making blows off all his fingers and one eye. Dripping blood, he still manages to crawl over and flush his incriminating papers and turn on the gas in the hope of blowing up the police when they come. After his trial he broke out of a prison hospital by climbing down a rope which broke and falling two stories, and is currently living in Cuba and on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Burroughs is probably a little too sympathetic to the cops. For example, he notes the irony of several senior FBI figures being indicted for extralegal activities like black bag jobs (basically breaking in without a warrant), while WU figures like Dohrn went free, despite being connected with over 100 bombings. But Dohrn wasn't a bombmaker, nor was she shooting people on the street: in fact it is striking how small the toll on civilians was, perhaps why Americans were able to mostly ignore it. (Honestly it speaks pretty well of American society that its worst domestic terrorists felt really bad if their bombs would hurt "innocents" - they only wanted to attack the wealthy, the army or the police.) Whereas the FBI went way across the line, and even J. Edgar Hoover knew it, trying to cut back the illegality until pushed by Nixon. And Burroughs thinks the FBI covered up the vast majority of the illegality, and anyway nobody did serious time. (The creepy but not illegal COINTELPRO - which infamously wrote a letter to MLK trying to neg him into killing himself - was also directed against the radical underground.) So are there lessons for and about the left today? I think that Nell Zink put it well in this terrific interview (mostly about her amazing writing! But also sharing tidbits from Marxist protests in Germany and Israel): the far left doesn't know how to win, no matter how much passion it has. The contemporary radical left seems much more subdued (one could hardly imagine Black Lives Matter bombing Congress, and not only because security has improved), and then as now has the tacit support of much of the young, educated upper class, working in big cities as programmers or lawyers, listening to Chapo Trap House and wearing DSA lapel pins. (And DJT is uncannily like Nixon repeated as farce!) The story of NYC's Lincoln Detox, a drug detox clinic run with city funding that taught Maoist literature and funneled money to the BLA until Ed Koch angrily shut it down seems a good exemplar of the book: it is mostly about almost comically out-of-touch Utopians, achieving nothing but offering no real menace to society.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    The book about those whose opposition to the Vietnam War, racial injustice and other issues turned to violence in the sixties and seventies. The title comes from an early action of the Weatherman after they broke away from the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society); a violent rampage in the streets of Chicago. The book is not just about the Weatherman, it alternates among the different groups that used violence, mainly bombings and assassinations, including the Black Panthers and the SLA, the g The book about those whose opposition to the Vietnam War, racial injustice and other issues turned to violence in the sixties and seventies. The title comes from an early action of the Weatherman after they broke away from the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society); a violent rampage in the streets of Chicago. The book is not just about the Weatherman, it alternates among the different groups that used violence, mainly bombings and assassinations, including the Black Panthers and the SLA, the group that kidnapped Patty Hearst. The author, Bryan Burrough, did his research. He interviewed key participants still alive, many of whom are talking about those days for the first time, as well as obtaining official records and books and articles written at the time. This balance is reflected in the book, for example former weathermen Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn are not let off the hook. They were aware of and helped with many of the bombings ahead of time, indifferent to the resulting injuries and deaths, and never acknowledged, much less apologized, for their actions. The book's balance allows it to show the excesses and violence of these groups without diminishing the idealism of others who chose peaceful ways to challenge the injustices of the day. It also critiques illegal actions by some law enforcement officials, especially the FBI. Mark Felt, of Deep Throat fame, is shown in a different context here, he was one of those who orchestrated illegal searches and wiretaps, and was one of those eventually charged with crimes for those illegal actions(though pardoned by Ronald Reagan) Another strength of the book was to remember the innocent victims. Many of those killed or permanently injured were innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb went off. Burrough would write a little of the lives of these victims before describing the actual bombing or shooting. This added to the reality of what was actually done. It also showed the different reactions of the "revolutionaries"; some left the groups when they saw the violence, others were indifferent, still others reveled in it. "Days of Rage" is a thorough,balanced, and nuanced history of a compelling time and well worth the read

  25. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I'm having a hard time with rating this book, let alone coming up with a coherent version of my sputtering as I read it. The research is great, as the author will tell you repeatedly, as he crows every time he brings new facts/relationships/allegations to light. It is certainly a great overview of the groups that operated on the far left and underground from the late sixties into the mid-eighties. For all that I learned from this book and all that I can;t wait to learn more about, I'll give a be I'm having a hard time with rating this book, let alone coming up with a coherent version of my sputtering as I read it. The research is great, as the author will tell you repeatedly, as he crows every time he brings new facts/relationships/allegations to light. It is certainly a great overview of the groups that operated on the far left and underground from the late sixties into the mid-eighties. For all that I learned from this book and all that I can;t wait to learn more about, I'll give a begrudging two stars. BUT - the sexism & racism in everything from the author's word choices to his lackluster political analysis is overwhelming. One example: "angry lesbians" is a lazy cliched turn of phrase and now sir you have created one. Also referring to women by their first names and men by their last names is a reliable guide to who he takes seriously. Women's bodies and sexualities are examined to the point of cruelty & obsession while the attractiveness of men and their sex lives are never put under the same microscope, nor are their motives ever found to be in their pants. Except for George Jackson,Burrough does feel comfortable commenting on the sex appeal of an African American man, especially in the context of white women fueling their support of prisoners with their screaming hormones. I do not have the full toolbox of vocabulary I would need to deconstruct the book's limp and lazy political & social analysis. In the chapters about the FALN, a Puerto Rican nationalist group, the author writes even more from the cop-eyes view than usual, abandoning the inside-the-group vantage point he tried to hold for other units like the Symbionese Liberation Army. Partially this seems because no one inside would talk to the authoir and also because the burden of Otherness is just too much for his narrative and the cops become the more relatable story-tellers for him. Very very glad I read it. Would recommend with an understanding of its limits. Wish it were a different book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Ross

    It's interesting that Freddie Gray's death and the resulting protests - and violence - in Baltimore and other cities across the U.S. occurred just about the time I hit the middle of this book. Burrough does an excellent job of looking at the radical underground (he calls it the first age of terror, but that's a misnomer, since the kinds of cycles of sustained and radical - even the "Founding Fathers" and their peers were radicals in their day and similar incidents occurred while the British occu It's interesting that Freddie Gray's death and the resulting protests - and violence - in Baltimore and other cities across the U.S. occurred just about the time I hit the middle of this book. Burrough does an excellent job of looking at the radical underground (he calls it the first age of terror, but that's a misnomer, since the kinds of cycles of sustained and radical - even the "Founding Fathers" and their peers were radicals in their day and similar incidents occurred while the British occupied the U.S. at the beginning - undergrounds have been a feature of American life from its beginning) that permeated U.S. society on various levels from the time the first non-natives hit its shores. The essential problem - and one the author doesn't address in a meaningful way - is that oppression and wrong-doing always reaches a breaking point and that breaking point engenders resistance. How that resistance materializes will depend on whether it's effective or not, and whether lasting change and change for the better occurs. Resistance, of and by itself, is not the problem. Resistance can be productive if it takes the form of fundamental change at the roots of the problem (and this has to begin with an internal change within the oppressed that seeks to end the oppression). However, the human heart that beats within each of us tends to focus, not on the big picture, not on long-term solutions, but on getting even and exacting revenge. And that is when violence comes into the picture. In the Days of Rage. In Ferguson. In Baltimore. Violence, ironically, reinforces oppression and underlying beliefs of the oppressors. It is, in effect, a self-fulfilling prophecy that does nothing but destroy and further deteriorate already-horrible conditions. That is the shown time and again in this book. What started out with legitimate claims of oppression and the need for fundamental change in this nation (despite what the pundits say, class, race, and economic inequality will always be with us as a nation and will always stoke the fires of resistance because of their increasingly-oppressive weight on more and more of the population of this country as the rich class gets richer and smaller, the middle class disappears, and the poor class gets poorer and bigger) soon disintergrated into violence for the sake of violence perpetuated by egomaniacal, sometimes mentally-ill, and drug-fueled people who would be on the fringe of even the most egalitarian societies we could imagine. That's the brutal reality of this book and the lessons - and the senselessness of the violence and destruction along the way - should not be lost on any of us. There is a right and a productive way to work for change for the better and there is a wrong and a counterproductive way to ostensibly say the actions are for change (they, in fact, are not). This book, in recounting the activities of groups like the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Black Liberation Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation), as well as all the smaller, independent, and copy-cat radical underground groups from the 1960's through the middle of the 1980's, shows how not to evoke permanent and lasting change. It's not for the faint-hearted. The gruesome details are hard to stomach, the senseless killing hard to imagine, and the hate and destruction difficult to comprehend. But it's also instructive, even as we look at American in the last several years, in how all of this violence and destruction accomplished nothing except pain and more suffering. I doubt we humans will ever learn that. We don't have the heart to.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    This book opens a window on an now almost unimaginable world. Just 40 years ago, in the early 1970s, the United States suffered through about 1500 bombings a year, almost five a day. Although most were not lethal, the fear and attention they inspired defined an era. The country at the time was filled with now forgotten acronymic Marxist groups that touted world revolution and then blew up mailboxes or bathrooms, as a means to get attention for their jargon-filled communiques. Sometimes, however, This book opens a window on an now almost unimaginable world. Just 40 years ago, in the early 1970s, the United States suffered through about 1500 bombings a year, almost five a day. Although most were not lethal, the fear and attention they inspired defined an era. The country at the time was filled with now forgotten acronymic Marxist groups that touted world revolution and then blew up mailboxes or bathrooms, as a means to get attention for their jargon-filled communiques. Sometimes, however, they aimed explicitly at murder. There was the Puerto Rican Liberation group (the FALN in Spanish) that blew up Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 (killing four people), the Black Liberation Army (BLF), who perpetuated a string of cop murders, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), that famously kidnapped and maybe brainwashed Patty Hearst, the "Family," the group made up of former terrorist groups, which in 1981 staged the famous and bloody Brinks armored car robbery. Most famously perhaps, there were the Weathermen, later Weather Underground, that accidently blew up three of their own in an East Village townhouse in 1970, and then spent a decade under Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers bombing bathrooms in the Pentagon, Congress, and elsewhere. Yet the Weathermen, like all of these groups, said that in their heart of hearts they really wanted to be Black Panthers, and for all the groups the Black Panthers, although not as explicitly murderous as later organizations, provided a continual source of inspiration and often recruits. The book is filled with idealistic and narcissistic young college radicals, usually white, who seemed oblivious to the fact that they were not going to foment a Marxist revolution in the United States with pipe bombs. These college radicals, however, often came into conflict with the even more radical and more violent black terrorist groups, whom the whites admired but whom they also knew they could never become. One of the book's revelations is that both white and black terrorist groups in the 1970s cared less about the Vietnam War and its aftermath and more about the waning struggle for black civil rights in America. The harsh situation of black Americans, especially vis-a-vis the police, was a continual goad for white radicals, and a continual inspiration to blacks, to foment more violent or aggressive actions against the police and government. These groups took the Black Panthers', and especially Emmanuel Cleaver's, calls to "off the pigs" seriously, and they often carried through. In the end, the author has trouble hiding his bafflement about and even rage against some of these people. Although he tries to enter into their world, and interviewed many of them, he wonders how they could have ever so cavalierly taken human life (or risked human life with bombs accompanied by "warnings") in the name of fatuous slogans. The author admits and laments that the FBI, in the terrorists' pursuit, often broke the law and committed burglaries and wiretapped and bugged them without warrants, but he also laments that the sensitivities of the late 1970s often forbade police from gathering any intelligence on groups that promised to kill or maim. The fact that many of these former terrorists walk around now signing books and singing songs about their supposed exploits without regret for the death and mayhem they caused is indeed something to be wondered at. The fact that a terrorist-obsessed America today has almost forgotten these terrorist groups is something even more strange. I wish that the author had shortened the book by 300 pages, and spent less time delving into the minute workings of all of these groups, but he does help remind us of a world like our own but at the same time so strange and distant.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andie

    For years I've dined out on the fact that I knew Bill Harris, who kidnapped Patty Hearst, in college. When asked how that could be, i usually tell the questioner that in the 1960's, a portion of everyone you knew went totally off the rails. Bryan Burrough does an excellent job of demonstrating how my feeling was true as he traces the history of the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Symbionese Liberation Army and The Family from their heydays in the late 1960's and earl For years I've dined out on the fact that I knew Bill Harris, who kidnapped Patty Hearst, in college. When asked how that could be, i usually tell the questioner that in the 1960's, a portion of everyone you knew went totally off the rails. Bryan Burrough does an excellent job of demonstrating how my feeling was true as he traces the history of the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Symbionese Liberation Army and The Family from their heydays in the late 1960's and early 1970's to their sad demise in the 1980's. Compared with today's terrorists these groups were laughable amateurs. Yes they bombed buildings, but mostly bathrooms in the middle of the night. One wonders how they ever believed that they were going to over throw the government. And the FBI and law enforcement agencies, despite breaking the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, seemed incapable of arresting any of them. In the end, it all was a waste: of lives, a waste of opportunities and a total collapse of idealistic (if twisted) politics. As one of the old radicals who was interviewed said, "It was all an f'ing waste."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anne Cupero

    This book taught me so much. I hesitate to say that I loved it because it was about radicalism and killing, but that is the reaction I have when I learn something brand new that I never knew before. Where was the mainstream media? Where were all the conversations we should have had in this country? In my world, they were non-existent. I am not happy that people lost their lives but something in me wants to say thank you to these revolutionaries. They actually did something about all the lies we' This book taught me so much. I hesitate to say that I loved it because it was about radicalism and killing, but that is the reaction I have when I learn something brand new that I never knew before. Where was the mainstream media? Where were all the conversations we should have had in this country? In my world, they were non-existent. I am not happy that people lost their lives but something in me wants to say thank you to these revolutionaries. They actually did something about all the lies we've been told by our government, all the pathetic stories to cover up our involvement in Vietnam. I am not deluded into thinking that America is the only country that does this, but it is embarrassing to me to have a history degree and not have heard of many of these occurrences in my own country. So I want to thank this author as well for opening up my eyes. This was an insightful read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diana H.

    I was a child during the 1970's and grew up hearing about these bombings and the groups that were responsible. At the time, in a small town in rural America, it didn't make much of an impact. However, after reading this book, the whole episode was made much clearer and the reasoning behind it - while flawed from my adult point of view, might have made sense to these young people at the time. I'm not sure how violence can enact change for the positive, but as we appear to be living through a simi I was a child during the 1970's and grew up hearing about these bombings and the groups that were responsible. At the time, in a small town in rural America, it didn't make much of an impact. However, after reading this book, the whole episode was made much clearer and the reasoning behind it - while flawed from my adult point of view, might have made sense to these young people at the time. I'm not sure how violence can enact change for the positive, but as we appear to be living through a similar climate now I guess the cycle continues. Learn from history - don't repeat it.

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