ARMED AND DANGEROUS: The Rise of the Survivalist Right by James Coates
Kirkus Star

ARMED AND DANGEROUS: The Rise of the Survivalist Right

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Coates, a veteran investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, here offers a riveting survey of America's violent ultra-right. The Order; Posse Comitatus; The Sword, and Covenant, and the Arm of the Lord: these snappy names shelter groups of men (mostly) and women who, Coates argues in this intelligent, passionate chronicle, are a spectre stalking the republic. He opens with an account of the most infamous Survivalist act, the flaying in 1984 of popular and acerbic Denver radio talk-show host Alan Berg, who ""was shot down like a dog on the street by a latter, clay Nazi who boasted afterward to his friends how fast Berg's body hit the pavement."" Berg had baited Survivalists on his show--a fatal mistake because Survivalists, as Coates shows, don't fool around: they are ""a frustrated corps of armed zealots with only acts of terror to express their canon of hatred and conspiracy."" Drawing on two years of research, Coates exposes the roots of the Survival Right (the 19th-century ""No-Nothings"" and the KKK); and traces its evolution from anti-Rome to anti-black and finally anti-Semitic leanings. In separate chapters, he examines each major group and their heroes--martyrs such as notorious tax-protester Gordon Kahl, who died in a shootout with federal agents; looks at ""lone-wolf' Survivalists; and follows the seepage of the ultra-right into the mainstream (pinpointing Lyndon Larouche and Jimmy Swaggart as major carriers). And, importantly, he identifies the twisted creed that cements thousands of Survivalists as disparate as anarchist tax-protesters and totalitarian nee-Nazis: a demented fantasy that sees the US as ""ZOG"" (""Zionist occupational government""), held captive by Jews--children of Cain conspiring to destroying the ""white race,"" but who will die along with all but a few in the upcoming Biblical apocalypse, leaving the earth free for select ""White Aryans"" who will live for ""blood, soil, honor, for faith, and for race."" This ground-breaking, compelling look at one of America's dark comers is first-rate journalism, and deserves a wide audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux