Author Topic: Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs  (Read 2046 times)

Online Chemsoldier

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Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs
« on: July 05, 2015, 03:49:31 PM »
Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burroughs, Penguin Press, 2015, 608 pages (though I listened to the audio version).

Bryan Burroughs was the author of the excellent “Public Enemies” which was about the War on Crime of the mid 1930s (Dillinger, the Barkers, the Barrows, etc).  That book was so good that as a scholarly non-fiction book it was turned into a movie.  So I was intrigued to see that Burroughs had written a book about the various underground leftist movements of the late 60s through the early 80s. 
While I was vaguely aware that these groups existed and some of their actions, Burrough’s book is very detailed.  He uses nearly every source available including interviews with aging former radicals and FBI men.  Some of the radicals had never spoken on the record before so this really does constitute a real update to the historical record of these events.
When the anti-war movement really ramped up in the mid-seventies, some of the most ardent anti-war protestors adopted Marxist ideology in a big way and decided to wage armed struggle against the imperialist west.  Additionally, as the early heady days of the civil rights movement stagnated into continued institutional discrimination and economic hardship, some black terrorist movements coalesced.  Some were classic Marxist and nationalist groups, others spawned by the prison conditions and reform movements.  While both major group types were a very small percentage of those who engaged in anti-war or black rights activities, they were quite real, engaged in real operations with lethal weapons and had more support from the larger movement than the general historical record would like to admit. 
The FBI and local police also engaged in horrific abuses of power targeting these groups and their larger more mainstream cousins which eventually lead to great reform in these agencies.  The revulsion for these tactics used by the police and FBI would lead to many members of the terrorist groups getting light or no punishment in some cases.  Other members of these groups would only end their ways with arrest, gunfire or death at the hands of their fellow revolutionaries.
It really delves into the psychology, beliefs and thought processes that took US citizens to go underground and wage war on their own country.  Each group went through a process of discovery in how they would organize, how to make bombs and how they would wage their campaigns against the imperialist west.
 The combination of idealism, naiveté, casual brutality and self-deception was jarring at times.  Revolutionaries that were devoted to fighting sexism, yet engaged in and tolerated domestic violence.  Black militants that targeted drug dealers as a scourge of urban neighborhoods yet became dependent on robbing the same dealers for operating money and were sometimes unable to confront the substance abuse problems in their own ranks.  Revolutionaries that did not have the stomach for their own violence and in time woke up to the nightmare that their tactics were not working, The People were not with them and that they were underground fugitives that increasingly wanted to just have a normal life like the rest of America that had moved on from the 60s and 70s.  FBI agents that cared passionately for their country and wanted desperately to keep it safe, yet regularly and unrepentantly violated the rights of its citizens to include wiretapping, mail tampering, warrantless breaking and entering and other dirty tricks.  Eventually their conduct put themselves on trial and allowed criminals who murdered American citizens to walk free.
The most violent groups were actually Puerto Rican nationalists, and the groups that came from the prison movements (go figure).

If you think you have a line, that at some point you would “defend liberty” from internal tyranny…you need to read this book.  You need to see the perspectives of people who thought they were doing the right thing and later realize they were wrong.  I say this not because I think it is wrong to have a line, but people need to know what it is like.  What the price is and the dangers of thinking a line has been reached.  It doesn’t matter if your line is really unlikely, like a Martian invasion or something.  Still, read it and think.  For those that are LE or want to be one day, there is a lot of casual talk in the LE and Military world of “just let us do our jobs and keep the lawyers out of our way.”  Read about what happens when that very thing occurs and the fallout, the permanent, multi-generational rifts it causes in society.
All in all, it is very well researched and very well written.  Two thumbs up.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2017, 02:59:47 PM »
Glen Tate posted this blog review on Facebook

https://status451.com/2017/01/20/days-of-rage/

Long, but fascinating.  I had no idea what was going on just a few years before I was born.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2017, 08:15:36 AM »

It sounds like alot of stuff I have heard about .. I am not sure I think about having any plan, but I think it's good to just understand what goes on and how things work and the rest will either work itself out or it won't but you don't have to be fooled. I think the Art of War was a good book otherwise .. I also think much of the struggle is just about life and trying to stay balanced or survive challenges and hardships. What needs to be done or what you can or can't do will become apparent when the time comes. What you can't do implies that you can't control all circumstances

Offline hackmeister

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Re: Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2017, 11:05:29 AM »
Excellent read. My now deceased father was a member of a counter communist NYPD squad in the late 60's and early 70's. He went to all the rallies and attended classes at multiple NYC area colleges/universities. Eventually he had lunch in the Cuban and Soviet missions in NYC and was invited to go study communism at Moscow University. He was adamant that many of these radicals that were all well known at the time eventually mainstreamed into the legitimate media and learning institutions. Two such examples he often mentioned were Sue Simmons and Pablo Guzman:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Simmons
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Guzm%C3%A1n_(reporter)


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Book Review- Days of Rage by Bryan Burroughs
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2017, 12:14:33 PM »
Excellent read. My now deceased father was a member of a counter communist NYPD squad in the late 60's and early 70's. He went to all the rallies and attended classes at multiple NYC area colleges/universities. Eventually he had lunch in the Cuban and Soviet missions in NYC and was invited to go study communism at Moscow University. He was adamant that many of these radicals that were all well known at the time eventually mainstreamed into the legitimate media and learning institutions. Two such examples he often mentioned were Sue Simmons and Pablo Guzman:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Simmons
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Guzm%C3%A1n_(reporter)

I am learning this more and more.  It seems today most people dismiss these radicals from 40+ years ago as wild rebellious youth.  No different from hippies that took lots of drugs and made some wild life choices.  But that's considerably different from premeditated violence against innocent targets.

It's a fantastic cover really...