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In the summer of 1970 and for years after, photos of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and other members of the Weather Underground were emblazoned on FBI wanted posters. In Bad Moon Rising, Arthur Eckstein details how Weather began to engage in serious, ideologically driven, nationally coordinated political violence and how the FBI attempted to monitor, block, and In the summer of 1970 and for years after, photos of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and other members of the Weather Underground were emblazoned on FBI wanted posters. In Bad Moon Rising, Arthur Eckstein details how Weather began to engage in serious, ideologically driven, nationally coordinated political violence and how the FBI attempted to monitor, block, and capture them—and failed. Eckstein further shows how the FBI ordered its informants inside Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to support the faction that became Weather during the tumultuous June 1969 SDS convention, helping to destroy the organization; and how the FBI first underestimated Weather’s seriousness, then overestimated its effectiveness, and how Weather outwitted them. Eckstein reveals how an obsessed and panicked President Nixon and his inner circle sought to bypass a cautious J. Edgar Hoover, contributing to the creation of the rogue Plumbers Unit that eventually led to Watergate.


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In the summer of 1970 and for years after, photos of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and other members of the Weather Underground were emblazoned on FBI wanted posters. In Bad Moon Rising, Arthur Eckstein details how Weather began to engage in serious, ideologically driven, nationally coordinated political violence and how the FBI attempted to monitor, block, and In the summer of 1970 and for years after, photos of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and other members of the Weather Underground were emblazoned on FBI wanted posters. In Bad Moon Rising, Arthur Eckstein details how Weather began to engage in serious, ideologically driven, nationally coordinated political violence and how the FBI attempted to monitor, block, and capture them—and failed. Eckstein further shows how the FBI ordered its informants inside Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to support the faction that became Weather during the tumultuous June 1969 SDS convention, helping to destroy the organization; and how the FBI first underestimated Weather’s seriousness, then overestimated its effectiveness, and how Weather outwitted them. Eckstein reveals how an obsessed and panicked President Nixon and his inner circle sought to bypass a cautious J. Edgar Hoover, contributing to the creation of the rogue Plumbers Unit that eventually led to Watergate.

47 review for Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI and Lost the Revolution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Redpoet

    But for some of the personal opinions of the author I would have given it five stars. His opinions weren’t awful just not particularly politically sophisticated. That said, the book is chock full of information, some only recently available. It is more than worth the read for that reason alone. Note: I myself was alleged by the government to be a part of Weather, and along with three others was prosecuted by the feds for our supposed participation in a series of bombing in the Kansas City area. I But for some of the personal opinions of the author I would have given it five stars. His opinions weren’t awful just not particularly politically sophisticated. That said, the book is chock full of information, some only recently available. It is more than worth the read for that reason alone. Note: I myself was alleged by the government to be a part of Weather, and along with three others was prosecuted by the feds for our supposed participation in a series of bombing in the Kansas City area. In addition, to the federal trial (where I was convicted of conspiracy), I was also tried in two separate state trials in Kansas for the same acts. In one, the judge tossed out the case due to prosecutorial misconduct. I was acquitted of all charges in the other. I did serve some federal time. Further, after my indictment (July 1971) during 1972 my apartment (which I shared with a woman and a German Shepard named Joe Hill) was subjected to several break ins which were obviously black bag operations of the FBI. We made a motion concerning this during the federal trial but nothing came of it. Reading how the FBI carried out these burglaries was interesting and fit the bill to a tee. Our case, The Kansas City 4, received very little national attention, mostly because it occurred geographically where it did. It is clear the author of this book never heard of us...lol. Attorney Susan Jordon who is mentioned in the book had a brief and strange walk on role in our case. Finally, the book made very clear to me why for years the FBI would show up at my door asking me where Bernardine Dohrn might be. I made it a policy never to speak to any police. Still they kept knocking at my door periodically anyway. I made one exception which occurred when they visited me in prison with same old question. I couldn’t help but answer with a smile, “I don’t know, but she ain’t here.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roger

    Bad Moon Rising I appreciate that Arthur Eckstein brings to readers’ attention the voluminous FBI and other formerly secret files on Weatherman and the Weather Underground – files that had not been available to earlier writers on the subject. It’s also helpful that Eckstein did conduct his own interviews with some Weather veterans, though perhaps not with enough to get a broader picture. However, a close reading of this book raises some doubt about Eckstein’s interpretation of this trove of data. Bad Moon Rising I appreciate that Arthur Eckstein brings to readers’ attention the voluminous FBI and other formerly secret files on Weatherman and the Weather Underground – files that had not been available to earlier writers on the subject. It’s also helpful that Eckstein did conduct his own interviews with some Weather veterans, though perhaps not with enough to get a broader picture. However, a close reading of this book raises some doubt about Eckstein’s interpretation of this trove of data. In 2013, I read a draft of an article by Eckstein on this same subject, and the book expands upon that article. At that time, he and I engaged in a correspondence over several weeks, in which I called out errors in his paper and questioned some of his conclusions. In our back-and-forth, which was mostly cordial, I cautioned him not to jump to conclusions based on partial evidence, or contradicted by other evidence. I also encouraged him to clean up many misspellings and incorrect details. To some extent he took my advice, but I don’t think he was deeply familiar enough with the subject to be able to do the job necessary. I suggested that his manuscript should be carefully reviewed by someone with a close familiarity with the subject matter, and capable of reading for detail. It’s not evident that anyone did that. (No one is acknowledged for it.) Eckstein’s repeated reliance on questionable sources is unsettling, and in our correspondence, I had cautioned him about the first two below. • Ron Jacobs’ The Way the Wind Blew is a shallow book with little original information and a lot of mistakes due to the writer’s lack of understanding of the subject and general ignorance. A representative example: he confuses the Strait of Georgia with the state of Georgia. (My further comments on that book are posted on its Amazon.com page, at https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-re... .) • Susan Stern’s With the Weathermen is noteworthy for its own descriptions of the author’s egotism and naivete, and also for its misjudgments. She wrote that I had read all of Marx and Lenin and could explain them to others simply and clearly. (I wish!) Pair that sentence with her self-description as a crazy fool who was in love with the idea of revolution without the slightest idea of what it meant. • On page 58 (see note 39), a description of Bernardine Dohrn is taken from a book by David Horowitz, a one-time progressive journalist who flipped long ago and is now a prolific ultra-rightist writer. A recent book of his is entitled BLITZ: TRUMP Will Smash the Left and WIN (June 2020). Hold your breath. I found the book’s structure sort of peculiar. It starts with a chapter making the detailed case that the Weather Underground was at its beginning “ready, even eager” to kill police and “to countenance the death of civilian bystanders.” He offers plenty of evidence, but he doesn’t present or give credence to plausible alternative theories. For example, one of Eckstein’s references states, … in the early phase of the group’s life cycle, a clear awareness of the dangers of some actions was often absent. Therefore, the possibility of killing was not a concern. … Ron Fliegelman (interview), another member of the Weatherman, states that until the townhouse incident the question of physical violence against people was never clearly addressed – ‘we weren’t cautious at all at that time’ – and the respect of boundaries ‘had to do with individual people’. Cathy Wilkerson (interview) confirms: ‘those actions before the townhouse were very confused on that question. I think that some people thought that they were actions against people and other people thought were actions against property. There wasn’t agreement about it’. “Pathways of an ‘Early’ De-Escalation: the Case of the Weather Underground Organization,” by Luca Falciola https://ecpr.eu/Filestore/PaperPropos... Whether or not one accepts these perspectives, which come from people who would have known, it seems that Eckstein has not given them due consideration. In acknowledging that his sources were primarily FBI files and Weather people who he describes as rebels against the Weatherman party line, he doesn’t seem to recognize that he has not gone deep enough. And that’s not easy, due to the paucity of real-time documentation and the unwillingness, even to this date, of some veterans to talk to an outsider. After chapter 1, the book gets to the bulk of the revelation from government files, which is interesting and, to a good extent, valuable new information from documents declassified after much of the earlier discussion of the Weather Underground. It would have been a great public service if Eckstein had made his source documents available to the public, rather than just referring the reader to numbered boxes in the National Archives. I say that especially because then, readers could examine the documents easily and make an independent evaluation of his interpretations. At least twice, Eckstein uses the disrespectful, sloppy shorthand of a writer in a hurry to tell his story without thinking about his words. On page 128, he refers to “anti-Cambodia demonstrations,” and on page 244 he mentions SDS “opposition to Vietnam.” Of course, he means the opposite in both cases. Some of what Eckstein says about Clayton van Lydegraf, while possibly true, is not supported by any citations. It sounds like the author’s prejudice. Some examples: Page 215: Eckstein says that van Lydegraf despised “pandering to the counter-culture” by breaking Tim Leary out of prison. I don’t know where that came from, but it wasn’t from Mark Rudd’s book, which Eckstein credits. It wasn’t too much later that I myself took LSD with van Lydegraf – though he had to take a shot of whiskey before the pill went to work for him. For some years afterward, he was commonly seen in wild tie-dyed T-shirts and a Mr. Natural beard. Pages 215 and 243: Eckstein twice refers to van Lydegraf as a “Stalinist,” without citation. That’s a pretty loose word to be thrown around without even a definition or explanation, even if there’s a grain of truth to it. Page 215: van Lydegraf left the Communist Party “because it was not violently revolutionary enough.” This is a shallow characterization of the Sino-Soviet split, in which China criticized the Soviet position of “peaceful coexistence” with the US, rather than continuing to support international anti-imperialist struggle. This global-political position, dating to the mid-1950s, is not the same as the implied strategy of violent revolution in the US. Page 243: van Lydegraf is referred to as “utterly incompetent.” Having spent his working life as an appliance repairman, he knew more about working with tools (and explosives) than most of the Weather people put together. Presumably this characterization refers to the fact that his roommate turned out to be an FBI agent, who got the bitter-ender Weather people all busted. Fair enough, though early Weather was also infiltrated, albeit with lighter consequences. Following is a list, probably not complete, of errors of fact or spelling in Eckstein’s book. Each of these alone may not seem so significant, but taken together they give an impression of a writer whose attention to accuracy and detail is lacking. Thus they call into question the author’s ability to work carefully with facts and arrive accurately at the numerous conclusions taken from the information he has at hand. None of the errors I point out takes any inside knowledge to find out. Page 39, and repeatedly afterward, the name of Judge John Murtagh is misspelled Page 49 Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin is misspelled Page 53, Greg Calvert was not SDS president; he was national secretary Pages 92 and 186, Rennie Davis was never SDS president Page 114, the Chicago 7 verdicts were on February 18, 1970, not February 25 Page 130, Bernardine Dohrn issued a “Declaration of a State of War,” not a “Declaration of War.” Page 130, and repeatedly afterward, Robert Tomashevsky’s name is misspelled Page 185, “Dennis Cunningham “headed” the People’s Law Office. This office was a collective from its beginning and would be loath to characterize any of its partners as its “head.” See the history of its early days on the office’s website. Page 267, note 90, the pseudonymous co-author of the Prairie Fire statement is shown here as “Cellia Sojourn,” rather than Celia. Cellia is a subgenus of mosquito, not likely to be chosen as a female name or nom de guerre. In conclusion, this book is not “simply the best book ever written about the Weather Underground,” as reviewer Maurice Isserman would have it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was a little drier, content-wise, than I was hoping for, but it does highlight a weird intersection of New Left and FBI history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  5. 4 out of 5

    lg1

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roz Foster

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dan Fisk

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cullen Enn

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ayse

  10. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Morley

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim Waterfield

  14. 5 out of 5

    Riccardo

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary Itano

  16. 4 out of 5

    Coloradodui

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve Fenster

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bernie Meadows

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tabor

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    With Trump in the White House, growing tensions in the Middle East and with North Korea, and suggestions that Russia has undermined democracy in the West, it’s tempting to believe that we’re living through unprecedented times. Reading about the discord of the 1970’s is a good antidote to this. To be clear, I borrowed Bad Moon Rising from NetGalley for other reasons. I’ve long been interested in the militant political movements of the time, most famously the Black Panthers, but also the Symbiones With Trump in the White House, growing tensions in the Middle East and with North Korea, and suggestions that Russia has undermined democracy in the West, it’s tempting to believe that we’re living through unprecedented times. Reading about the discord of the 1970’s is a good antidote to this. To be clear, I borrowed Bad Moon Rising from NetGalley for other reasons. I’ve long been interested in the militant political movements of the time, most famously the Black Panthers, but also the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) who kidnapped the heiress Patty Hearst, and the Weather Underground, the focus of this tome. This last movement were perhaps the most successful. The Black Panthers were destroyed by the FBI COINTELPRO programme, while the SLA were finally smashed in the mid-seventies, and though many of its members went on the run and weren’t caught for decades, when they finally were found many were jailed. The Weather Underground however fared better. In part this is due to the fact that after a disastrous explosion in a bomb factory which killed a number of its members, the group eschewed bombings that might kill, and instead pursued a policy of destruction of property, in part they were just better at rooting out informants. Bad Moon Rising is a fascinating account of this movement, the members of which now live openly in the United States having avoided prosecution. It is a fascinating account of the FBI’s failure to catch, build cases against, and convict its members. But to me the real importance of this book is a reminder of just how precarious the period was compared with the world of today. For anyone who didn’t live through the seventies (myself included) it is difficult to understand just how fragile the political situation was and the author does a great job of teasing this out. For all Trump’s faults, as yet he has not led his country into a disastrous war (though some might suggest that it is only a matter of time). Nixon on the other hand, escalated the war in Vietnam (already a quagmire when he came to power) by authorising the carpet bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia, and ground invasions of Cambodia and Laos, all of which were deeply controversial and sparked massive unrest amongst the antiwar movement. Similarly, while resistance to Trump is spirited, it does not compare to the depth of feeling and antipathy that the antiwar and leftwing activist movements held for Nixon and it is in this contest that armed movements materialised. The Weather Underground can only be understood in this context. The paranoia of the Nixon Administration, an instability at the heart of his government which led directly to the events of Watergate, is also apparent here. Nixon and his team really did see the Weather Underground as an existential threat. While in some ways this is surprising, for in reality the movement achieved little and their actions were certainly far less destructive than many contemporaries - the IRA, PLO, the Baader Meinhoff Gang in Germany - all killed many more people and destroyed much more property, but again, perhaps the administration can be forgiven for exaggerating the danger the group posed when one considers the febrile atmosphere of the time. Of course, this comparison between Trump’s nascent administration (let’s remember he has only been President for just over a year) and Nixon’s might prove premature. Trump might well lead the United States into a disastrous foreign intervention and the resistance towards his administration might well become more militant. There are already worrying signs. Putting aside his baiting of North Korea and his deepening of US involvement in Afghanistan (lest we forget, he recently authorised Mattis to increase the number of US troops in the country), the far right is increasingly flexing its muscles as evidenced most vividly in Charlotsville, while militancy on the left is also on the rise: for example, one leftwing group, Redneck Revolt, was reported by The Independent to be arming working class people who want to defend minorities from attack. In such circumstances, one could well imagine the tide turning and Trump’s America mirroring the turmoil of Nixon’s. But until then, Bad Moon Rising is both a fascinating read in and of itself and a helpful anchor. As yet Trump has been more blowhard than real threat. For all his rhetoric he’s arguably achieved very little and America is still a relatively tranquil place compared to times gone past. Lets hope it stays that way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Mullen

  24. 4 out of 5

    T.J. Burns

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angelia

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mike Mitchell

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jetaime

  31. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  32. 5 out of 5

    camilla

  33. 5 out of 5

    Than

  34. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Adams

  35. 5 out of 5

    Ninette

  36. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  37. 4 out of 5

    Jeni Kirby

  38. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  40. 4 out of 5

    Monica

  41. 4 out of 5

    Anna Akers-Pecht

  42. 5 out of 5

    Igrowastreesgrow

  43. 4 out of 5

    0

  44. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

  45. 4 out of 5

    Steven Werber

  46. 5 out of 5

    Lourdes

  47. 5 out of 5

    Theaardvark01

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