THE VOICES OF GUNS by Vin & Paul Avery McLellan


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The tabloid press has battened on the carcass of the SLA much as they did on the Manson Family, and now the headlines are being reconstituted into books. McLellan and Avery are workmanlike journalists; they don't need to sensationalize, the grisly melodrama is built into the story. More distanced and less inclined to hip antiestablishment cant than John Bryan (This Soldier Still At War, 1975), they locate the SLA's beginnings in California's politicized prisons (Cinque exemplified black ""criminals with designs on history""), in the detritus of the New Left, and in the aimless Bay Area ""street people."" They probe the angry, alienated lives and middle-class backgrounds of Willie Wolfe, Angela Atwood, Nancy Ling Perry, Bill and Emily Harris, and the rest of the small band. There are graphic accounts of Patty's abduction and--much later--her rather anticlimactic capture (""She laughed, then giggled, then put up her hands,"" said the FBI man), along with speculation on the nature of the ""brainwashing"" that achieved Patty's conversion. They note, accurately, that for all its fury the SLA never escaped ""the tinge of farce."" They explain that ""the televised barbecue in Los Angeles"" where six SLA members died destroyed the organization--after that it was run, hide, run, hide. It all moves along briskly, and for anyone who slept through F. Lee Bailey's jousts with the prosecutor at Patty's trial, this is an adequate replay.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1976
Publisher: Putnam