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Bring the War Home:
The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America
Kathleen Belew identifies a radical, racist right-wing that was forged in the crucible of the Vietnam War, and has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents.
As recent and disturbing events show, most notably in Charlottesville, white power as a social movement in America is becoming increasingly visible and dangerous. Understanding white power activism and its complex history—deeply rooted in war and violence—is essential to not only preventing future acts of violence, but to providing vital context to current political developments, argues Kathleen Belew in her sobering and timely new book.
Belew has written the first comprehensive account of the white power movement. Consolidating in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War, the movement made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City.
Using declassified FBI records, personal papers, and periodicals as part of her extensive, decade-long research, Belew explains how wars fought abroad feed domestic racism, vigilantism, and extremism. She examines how a small but driven group of active-duty men and women, veterans, and civilian supporters decided that declaring war against their own government was justified.
As the white power movement continues to carry out an escalating campaign of terror and violence against the American people, Bring the War Home is a necessary look at the spillover of military violence in America today.
“[A] gripping study of white power… It is impossible to read the book without recalling more recent events… The book’s explosive thesis: that the white power movement that reached a culmination with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing emerged as a radical reaction to the [Vietnam] war… It is a breathtaking argument, one that treats foreign policy as the impetus for a movement that most people view through the lens of domestic racism… It’s a stunning indictment of official culpability, and Belew constructs her case with forensic care. In doing so, she shows that, while racism is ever with us, policy choices ranging from local police strategies to the furthest reaches of foreign policy create the space for white power to flourish.” —Nicole Hemmer, The New York Times
“Compelling… Meticulously researched and powerfully argued, Belew’s book isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home… Bring the War Home is a grim and sobering read—and, for many, it may arrive as a much-needed and troubling revelation: The sheer size of white-power extremism since Vietnam is frightening… The power of Belew’s book comes, in part, from the fact that it reveals a story about white-racist violence that we should all already know.” —Patrick Blanchfield, The Nation
“Fascinating… Belew connects seemingly disparate events like the killings at Greensboro, the persecution of Vietnamese fishers in Texas in the early 1980s, and the siege at Ruby Ridge. She shows how hatred of the federal government, fears of communism, and racism all combined in white-power ideology and explains why our responses to the movement have long been woefully inadequate.” –Slate