IN BAD COMPANY by Mark S. Hamm


America’s Terrorist Underground
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Meticulous, if stiffly presented, probings into the activities of the Aryan Revolutionary Army—and their possible links to Timothy McVeigh.

Ruby Ridge and Waco sparked acts of violent resistance by “angry white men” who “were tied together by an animosity toward the federal government and an obsessive suspicion that the U.S. Constitution had been abandoned by tyrannical bureaucrats in Washington,” writes conspiracy theorist Hamm (Criminology/Indiana State Univ.; Apocalypse in Oklahoma, 1997). One of those groups was the Aryan Republican Army, a minuscule but effective cell of troubled characters who committed a string of audacious and comically spirited bank robberies during the 1990s (they wore Nixon and Clinton masks and never physically hurt anyone). The ARA, whose membership included garden-variety psychopaths and a fellow with gender-identity issues, who as a teenage “alcoholic anarchist with predatory tendencies” was crippled by “love-prejudice,” may well have financed McVeigh, as the violent right by 1995 was everywhere—and, though decentralized, interconnected. Other possible members of the ARA may have helped McVeigh and Nichols build the Oklahoma bomb; however, they may not have either, for Hamm’s evidence—and resulting conspiracy theory—are merely circumstantial. In suffocating academese—“all subcultural crime is rooted in the norms and values of the dominant culture,” etc.—the author nonetheless presents a credible picture of a terrifying right wing blossoming under the right circumstances, particularly when the FBI and ATF wax into their periodic modes of militarized masculinity.

Indeed, there’s no reason to think that the mare’s nest of associations between groups of the violent right is anything but humming along, which is enough to run a shiver of dread right up the spine.

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 2001
ISBN: 1-55553-492-9
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2001


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