Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence
by Bryan Burrough
2015 / 608 pages
read by Ray Porter 22h 13m
rating: 8.5 (for literary value mainly) / 20th cent US (“true” crime?)
I needed some good nonfiction, I’m interested in the subject of the Weather Underground and other radical groups of the 1970s, and this is a brand new look back.
It’s certainly comprehensive although from what I read there are entirely too many sources which are labeled as “anonymous.” Also unfortunately, there’s virtually nothing about what was actually in the voluminous tracts the groups themselves wrote – what they said about the wrongs they were trying to correct, what they said about themselves at the time.
And Burroughs obviously chose whatever information suited his negative purposes – cherry-picking I believe it’s called. Where Wikipedia reports 800 people at the Days of Rage and fairly good news coverage – Burroughs says there were only a couple hundred and it was a huge embarrassment. lol – (I’m VERY curious. – I don’t think he’s right.)
And where is the info about the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995? or other terrorists from the other side of the political spectrum? Oh well –
I knew quite a lot about the subject because I followed the events fairly closely back in the days. But my anecdotal experience, based entirely on frustration with the peaceful protests of the student anti-war movement’s lack of progress, is a far cry from the complexities of the whole.
Burroughs weaves a whole bunch of radical groups together from the origins of the Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers in the early/mid-1960s to the capture and trial of the last members of the United Freedom Front (Ray Levasseur and family) in 1986. He covers the Weatherman group and its offshoots, the Black Liberation Front and it’s subsidiaries, FALN (Puerto Rico) and the die-hards of all. (Because imo, the radical militant left lost the bulk of its support when the war in Vietnam ended.)
I would have closed the book at about the third chapter because it seemed to me that Burroughs had a definite political agenda bent on showing the worst of these people, (without mentioning their causes) some of whom I consider heroes. Warning – this attitude continues throughout the entire book, even if he does show a few foibles of the FBI – not much mention of Kent State and the Pentegon incident in which peaceful protesters were shot at). In the Epilogue where he reviews what these folks have done in the past 25-30 years – he sounds a bit annoyed they weren’t all executed. For what it’s worth, the author was recently interviewed on the FOX as well as NPR networks.
Still – I’m glad I finished. It was good to remember some things or learn about some aspects. It’s a very well-written book of the true-crime genre – often page-turning as the chases and the hiding go on. The narrator, Ray Porter, adds to the suspense and tone of the book.
Bottom line – if you can overlook the author’s obvious slant I recommend it and I strongly recommend that you at least Google the info whenever you can – although you likely won’t find anything there about Dohrn’s sexuality which Burroughs is apparently really concerned with. (lol)