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Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Date Published: June 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521694193

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About the Authors
  • This book explores an escalating spiral of tension between the Patriot movement and the state leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The author served as a consultant to Timothy McVeigh's defense team and draws on information based on face-to-face interviews with McVeigh. Wright contends that McVeigh was firmly entrenched in the Patriot movement and was part of a network of 'warrior cells' that planned and carried out the bombing. By examining the Patriot movement's history and subsequent reconfiguration of conflicts with the state, McVeigh's role in the bombing can be more fully understood.

    • Detailed and personal portrait of Timothy McVeigh, his background and beliefs
    • Explains McVeigh's role in the Oklahoma City bombing as part of a network of warrior cells in the underground Patriot movement
    • Thorough presentation of the history and activities of a variety of Patriot groups
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Why did “domestic terrorism” on the scale of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing occur? [Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing] shows how convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators rose up from an increasingly militant Patriot social movement that promoted “leaderless resistance” by “phantom cells” in a spiraling “war” with U.S. law enforcement agencies – themselves increasingly militarized through gun raids and the war on drugs. By exploring the deep historical connections of the Patriot movement to Cold-War anti-communism, racist opposition to the Civil Rights movement, the anti-tax movement, the farm crisis, and opposition to gun control, Stuart Wright’s gripping and forceful account brings to light the social dynamics of a deeply troubling variant of right-wing political culture that America needs to understand and confront."
    John R. Hall, University of California – Davis, Author, Apocalypse Observed

    "This book should be read by anyone concerned to understand how terrorism, decidedly unrelated to "Islamo-fascism," has arisen in contemporary America. The portrait of Timothy McVeigh is riveting in its own way, but he is, for better or worse, safely dead. What is most disturbing is the suggestion that the current US armed forces may in effect be serving as a training camp for future McVeigh’s who may, for whatever complex of reasons, feel a similar alienation from their government."
    Sanford Levinson, University of Texas, Author, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)

    "The story of the Oklahoma City bombing is one that Stuart Wright is uniquely qualified to tell because of his masterful understanding of the Patriot movement, partly based on personal interviews with Timothy McVeigh. Combining the skills of a historian, a sociologist, and a detective, Wright places this cataclysmic event in the complex context of broad developments since the end of World War II and the specific policies, individual actions, and government responses that led up to the bombing. The result is a remarkably compelling analysis of the fateful social and political dynamics that brought McVeigh and his truckload of explosives to Oklahoma City. This book is an informative, insightful, and gripping study that is at once irresistibly fascinating and deeply disturbing."
    Carl Smith, Northwestern University

    "Stuart Wright’s book provides a fascinating insight into the Christian Patriot movement by centering on the Oklahoma City bombing. Wright draws on many personal interviews to create an account of a spiral of threat and opportunity that is a contribution to the theory of social movements. The book will be of interest to sociologists, political scientists, historians, and all others who study violent social movements."
    Clyde Wilcox, Georgetown University

    "In our post 9/11 world it is too easy to forget that there is a significant, armed, militant, domestic anti-government movement -- one that is also willing to use terrorist tactics. Wright's book is a useful and intellectually engaging reminder. Wright weaves together a nuanced story of how the anti-communism of the '50s, resistance to the civil rights movements of the '60s, the anti-tax backlash of the '70s, and the farm crisis of the '80s combined with a burgeoning "gun culture" to produce a movement that conceives of itself as at war with its own government in order to save its nation. This movement's ideology has been abetted and facilitated by a federal government that has "declared war" on drugs, crime, and terrorism, militarized the police, and expanded the domestic role of the military. Those interested in the far right, Patriot movement militias, and issues of terrorism in the contemporary world should not miss this book."
    Rhys H. Williams, University of Cincinnati, Editor, Cultural Wars in American Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521694193
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • contains: 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Codicil to a Patriot profile
    2. Patriots, political process, and social movements
    3. Historical context of Patriot insurgency
    4. The farm crisis, threat attribution, and Patriot mobilization
    5. State mobilization: building the trajectory of contention
    6. The gun rights network and nascent Patriots: rise of a threat spiral
    7. Movement-state attributions of war: Ruby Ridge and Waco
    8. Patriot insurgency and the Oklahoma City bombing
    9. Patriot movement demobilization and decline.

  • Author

    Stuart A. Wright, Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas
    Stuart A. Wright is the Assistant Dean for the College of Graduate Studies and Research and a Professor of Sociology at Lamar University. Dr Wright received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1983. He is the author of Leaving Cults: The Dynamics of Defection and editor of Armageddon in Waco. He has published more than thirty articles or book chapters in scholarly venues and has become a widely recognized expert and legal consultant. Dr Wright worked with US Congressional subcommittees in 1995 investigating the government's role in the Waco siege and testified in House hearings. Following the highly publicized hearings, he was retained as a consultant by defense attorneys in the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh. Dr Wright has received numerous grants and research awards.

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