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 and The Big Rich, an explosive account of the decade-long battle between the FBI and the homegrown revolutionary movements of the 1970s
The Weathermen. The Symbionese Liberation Army. The FALN. The Black Liberation Army. The names seem quaint now, when not forgotten altogether. But there was a time in America, during the 1970s, when bombings by domestic underground groups were a daily occurrence. The FBI combated these and other groups as nodes in a single revolutionary underground, dedicated to the violent overthrow of the American government.
In Days of Rage, Bryan Burrough re-creates an atmosphere that seems almost unbelievable just forty years later, conjuring a time of native-born radicals, most of them “nice middle-class kids,” smuggling bombs into skyscrapers and detonating them inside the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, at a Boston courthouse and a Wall Street restaurant packed with lunchtime diners. The FBI’s fevered response included the formation of a secret task force called Squad 47, dedicated to hunting the groups down and rolling them up. But Squad 47 itself broke many laws in its attempts to bring the revolutionaries to justice, and its efforts ultimately ended in fiasco.
Drawing on revelatory interviews with members of the underground and the FBI who speak about their experiences for the first time, Days of Rage is a mesmerizing book that takes us into the hearts and minds of homegrown terrorists and federal agents alike and weaves their stories into a spellbinding secret history of the 1970s.
wildly fired his 9mm, then frantically drew a second submachine gun from beneath his coat. It was no use. No one could have survived the blizzard of bullets directed his way. Twymon Meyers, out for a stroll on a cold New York night, was cut to pieces. His funeral in Harlem made a deep impression on any number of white radicals who attended. The young Italian émigré Silvia Baraldini, who would later rob banks alongside black militants, gave a friend a religious icon to place inside the coffin.
groups, including courses on revolutionary theory and bomb making. In 1971 a House subcommittee identified the most popular books requested by black inmates as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown’s Die Nigger Die, and Cleaver’s Soul on Ice. It was Cleaver, starting in 1968, who loudly and repeatedly began predicting that black inmates would soon rise up and form the leading edge of the revolution. This kind of talk produced something approaching rapture in a certain brand of white
found that more than 350,000 young Americans considered themselves “revolutionaries.” The term, of course, meant many things to many people. For most, unwilling or unable to accept the far-fetched notion that a violent uprising might topple the government, the word “revolution” became a kind of shorthand for fundamental change. When they used it, they meant a revolution in American norms, in the power structure, in civil rights, in attitudes toward the poor and dispossessed. No sane person, it
might have been dismissed as a random instance of especially aggressive protesters. But because it happened in New York, the world’s media center, Columbia became an overnight phenomenon as images of angry, shouting students were beamed to television sets around the world. As far as the press was concerned, the star of the show was the student spokesman, a soft, husky New Jersey sophomore named Mark Rudd, whose dramatic poses—typically one fist raised, the other wrapped around a bullhorn—appeared
of calm, an oasis of playgrounds and gardens a world away from the angry traffic on the parkway over by the river. That warm May evening, the 19th, the park was in bloom, a dazzle of pink and crimson on the Japanese dwarf cherry and crab apple trees. One man who lived on the park, at 404 Riverside Drive, was Frank Hogan, known as Mr. Integrity, who had been the New York district attorney since taking over from Thomas Dewey all the way back in 1941. The week before, Hogan had wrapped up the