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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion from Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  330 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Going Postal examines the phenomenon of rage murder that took America by storm in the early 1980's and has since grown yearly in body counts and symbolic value. By looking at massacres in schools and offices as post-industrial rebellions, Mark Ames is able to juxtapose the historical place of rage in America with the social climate after Reaganomics began to effect worker' ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published October 17th 2005 by Soft Skull Press
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Paul Bryant

Edited with a heavy heart, 16 December 2012


Mark Ames' argument : rage murders – workplace and school massacres – started in the 1980s and now there are a LOT of them. Americans blame this that and the other thing for all this hideous violence but they frantically avoid looking at the real culprit because to do so would mean they would have to face some harsh unacceptable political truths : it’s the conditions of life in workplaces and in schools, the toxic pressures of American middle-class lif
Zac Weiss
I definitely went through some form of anagnoresis when I read this book. The author makes a few very solid points near the beginning of the book, which have definitely changed the way I see the world today. Slavery did not end due to moral outrage, but because it wasn't economically viable anymore; assembly line work is much more productive. interesting, ok, although they obviously service completely different markets. Sure, workplace and school rampages are almost always committed by crazy peo ...more
Ryan Mishap
The author has two explanations for workplace shootings. The first is that since Ronald Reagan took office, corporations have broken their mutually beneficial compact with workers. In their rapaciousness, they have over-worked, downsized, and driven modern workers half-crazy—all with government help in the form of deregulation, neoliberal economic policy, and anti-union measures. Ames straight out blames Reagan for the rise of workplace shootings. People with no options and no hope lash out…whic ...more
Heather V
I don't even know where to start with this book. It took me half a year to read, and not just because I've been having vision issues. This is one seriously dense read, and at times your eyes will probably glaze over because statistic after statistic gets kind of monotonous. But I have no choice but to give it three stars because Ames did incredibly extensive research about toxic workplaces and school environments, and he related some incidents that I'd not known about before. So...three stars it ...more
Aaron Arnold
By an unfortunate coincidence, I ordered this book right before the 11/5 Fort Hood shooting tragedy, and after finishing it I was angry at how steadfastly unwilling the media (and much of society) are to ask the tough questions about why school and workplace shootings, which were almost completely unknown before the 1980s, have become such a grim and seemingly inevitable part of modern society. Mark Ames places the blame squarely on the new corporate culture of the Reagan years, where employees ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: class-war
Someone did a disservice to this book, giving it a title and cover art that suggest something sensationalistic, if not totally exploitative of its subject matter. It will put some people off, and that's unfortunate, because it's not the case. Author Mark Ames approaches the subject intent on affirming his thesis, but his sympathy, and affinity, for working class America is obvious.

Reagan, Ames says, is responsible for a breathtaking transfer of wealth into the pockets of the few at the grave exp
Dan Sharber
this book was very disturbing and very good. it is also very cynical and depressing and while i wanted to find fault with many of the conclusions i just couldn't do it. it all makes sense. there are a couple of things i would refine so to speak. mainly, he lays the entire blame for the radical restructuring of our society after the late 70's and early 80's directly at reagan's feet. while there is certainly truth to this, the rise of neoliberalism (and concomitant transfer of wealth upward, slas ...more
Keith Chawgo
Going Postal is an interesting read to begin with and then turns to waffle as the author states his facts, states them again, restates them and then if you haven't quite got it, states them all over again. After page 250 of this densely written book, you eyes start to glaze over and you find yourself skimming through the facts and figures and looking for the actual true crime sections which are where this book excels at.

Mark Ames, to his credit, has produced some alternative reasons for the work
Sonja Hennessy
On page 29 Mark Ames writes the following-> " Domestic uprisings in this country are extremely rare. Nowhere is this more
painfully obvious than in slave uprisings. The number of documented slave rebellions in the United States, from the mid-1500s up through the end of the Civil War,number under a dozen."

This is questionable. According to Wikipedia(I know, wikipedia) there were about 250 slave uprisings in the United states. Herbert Aptheker, a historian credited as being the first to seriousl
Definitely made me think more than I thought it would. Kind of obvious that certain things have declined since the late 1940s--1950s, which the author frequently cites as the halycon days for American workers.

And yeah we get the short end of the stick--least benefits, least vacation days, most dispensable in the first world--and I recognized a lot of the negative things that I see on daily basis in this book. The warning signs of whether a rage based murder could happen list in this book, my wo
Feb 13, 2012 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Kind of confused about how this differs with Dave Cullen's Columbine. Both paint very different pictures of the boys. I want to believe Cullen's version more just because he focused soley on Columbine, but then if Ames was completely wrong about it, what does that mean for the rest of his book? But aside from that, this was a very interesting and well written book. There were a few segments that went off in tangents that seemed to have little to do with anything, and clearly Ames really hates Re ...more
Nick Schau
It was refreshing to finally read a clear-eyed explanation of mass-shootings that attempts to tie the perpetrators together in an honest, straightforward framework. This book approaches something close to the truth that you somehow always suspected but could never find the words to articulate, a rarity in the nonfiction world.

I suppose I chose to read Going Postal because I was looking for a more sincere examination of workplace and school shootings than the same unsatisfactory and lazy explanat
Starts with an intriguing and promising premise - that economic and business policies begun in the Reagan era have contributed to the rise of workplace shootings - but then devolves into rants about suburbia and tenuous comparisons of white middle class office workers to slaves waging righteous rebellion. Ames takes too many pains to validate the motivations of rage killers, to the point where the author comes off as unsympathetic to many likely innocent victims and even people who sought to pre ...more
The information and stories were interesting and scary. However, the writer almost seems to blame the victims. Even if someone is a jerk or horrible boss, that does not mean someone gets to kill them. He makes it seem like it is ok that they killers took people out because they were so badly treated. He even talks about how strange it is that the bosses always seem to be out the day these rampages occur. Almost like it was a bummer. It just seemed very callous to blame the managers for the "stre ...more
even though i had to read this for school, i'm counting it as a personal read this year because i choose what i wanted to read (this book) for my english assignment. while this book could be tedious at times and generally could be cut down by 100 pages, it was still interesting to see the dehumanizing elements in today's culture and how it has the ability to drive people towards rage murder. while it wasnt my favorite book (all the graphic violence was hard to stomach) i still enjoyed it because ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I gave this book 4 stars but I am not sure many would agree with me. Going into this book I took it as being about rampage killings, which in a big sense it was. However, the author tended to ramble a lot on other subjects that in his mind reverted back to the core of why work place and schoolyard shootings happen. He made very good points in many areas but he tended to go on and on making you wonder if you were reading a book about Slavery, The Revolution, Reaganomics..... Had the subjects that ...more
Casper Denck
Going Postal is an intriguing book to read, by that I mean it is compelling, well written, and nonsensical in equal measure. It is at times extremely difficult to take seriously -take one of the book's central contentions by way of example: the slave trade is a very good analog of life of the average worker in Post-Reaganite America. Seriously?

Notwithstanding the bizarre and lengthy tangents on slave rebellions the book is a well documented and perceptive history and analysis of instances of "go
In Going Postal, Mark Ames presents a thesis so grim, so unacceptable in polite conversation that it's hard to even talk about without endless backpedaling and qualifications: that stress, the decline of the middle class, the decay of the American Dream -- essentially the entire character of our post-Reagan culture -- is directly responsible for rage killings and spree shootings in the workplace and school, phenomena that were almost totally unknown decades ago.

It sounds crass and hyperbolic, bu
Amar Pai
Compelling, full of scabrous rage, but at the moment I just don't have it in me to get through something this dark and polemical. Ames is not one to mince words & although some might question his specific thesis about the origins of workplace violence & modern day shootups at the office, I feel that he hits the nail on the head w/ his larger theme of America's tragic decline in the Reagan era. I can't stand this modern day revisionism that makes Reagan out to be some kind of nobel figure ...more
Aug 03, 2008 Nocheevo rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: disaffected middle class blokes who need a reality check after reading Fight Club
An interesting and confrontational hypothesis that almost comes off.......... the workplace/ school spree shootings in the USA in the last 15 years is a result of not an anomaly of a gun toting psycho but is a blacklast against the changes in the workplace and society as a result of Reaganomics (economic rationalism).

To a point the argument works but the book misses something to really clinch the argument, perhaps a more indepth dissection of a case would have worked. Some section seem to be es
Going Postal examines the phenomenon of rage murder that took America by storm in the early 1980's and has since grown yearly in body counts and symbolic value. By looking at massacres in schools and offices as post-industrial rebellions, Mark Ames is able to juxtapose the historical place of rage in America with the social climate after Reaganomics began to effect worker's paychecks. But why high schools? Why post offices? Mark Ames examines the most fascinating and unexpected cases, crafting a ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
"The way this country supplicated before Reagan's corpse, elevating him to a kind of Khomeini status with the seven-day funeral and the endless orations about his humanity, intelligence, and how wonderfully simple life was under his reign, only reinforced the most disturbing conclusions that I was reaching as I wrote this book: that Americans have become perfect slaves, fools and suckers, while a small elite is cackling all the way to the offshore bank."
This book is itself a little like a murder or accident scene - after a while, you want to look away, but just can't. Ames details the history of rage murders in America, a fairly recent phenomenon, focusing on schools and workplaces specifically, and makes a controversial comparison between rage murders and slave rebellions in the 1700s and 1800s. He writes a detailed account of the ways in which our workplaces have become especially draconian and oppressive, mostly as a result of an elimination ...more
Sarah Sammis
I was half expecting Going Postal to be a sensationalist history of the most violent of shootings in recent American history. Instead the book is a frank and curious investigation of the psychology behind these acts of violence.

What Mark Ames finds is that most people don't snap no matter how bad the situation is. An otherwise mentally stable human being won't rebel against a bad situation even if an act of rebellion would result in a better situation for himself and others. A mentally ill perso
Julia Michaels-koenig
It's... something. I mean, it's got a fascinating premise and it's extremely well-researched and well-thought-out, but it's kind of atrociously written and either never crossed the desk of either a content or copy editor, or the whole editorial staff should be fired. At best it was run through MS Word spell-check, so that homophone errors like "reign in" made it to press intact, and the authorial tone is all over the place in a way that a content editor would never have allowed. It ranges from j ...more
Tal MacNeil
Ames makes his case here that the cause of school/workplace rampage murders is due to toxic environments caused by particular political and educational "reforms" that make people feel disposable and dehumanised, and draws the comparison with antebellum slave rebellions--observers looked for any cause but the obvious one. Ames is a thorough, relentless writer, but his style is muted quite a bit in comparison with the eXile--probably necessary for it to sell as a book, but without his vivid rage a ...more
Zayn Gregory
Why do they hate America? Because there is a lot there to hate, says Mark Ames. Going Postal connects a lot of far-flung points to show the creepy similarities that exist between school and workplace rage killings and early American slave rebellions. Among them is that each and every slave rebellion was led by a certifiable crazy person. When the cruelty and hatefulness of American society is invisible, you'd have to be a lunatic to see it. It may be that the rage killers were crazy *and also* t ...more
Yeah, it's hard to believe you'll be sympathetic to rage killers, but after reading Ames, you will be. He puts it into the context of how American's lives have gotten more stressful due to the effects or Reagan and assault on workers and unions and how Americans are working more, and are more stressed. It really does make sense.
It was interesting how he talked about the bully culture in schools, and how school principles media reject this theory. Ames's theory seems more correct, and the "pure e
Dec 06, 2008 Nikk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the ever-growing trend of mass school or workplace massacres
Recommended to Nikk by: DB Book Forum
I thought this book was very interesting, and I only skipped about twenty pages of it, which slipped into the history of slave rebellion, and how it connected with the subject at hand. It's tough to get through sometimes, but overall it is completely worth the read. There are some points in the book where you just can't stop yourself from reading. I think I really enjoyed this book because it vocalized something I was unable to pinpoint for a long time. Something I felt, and I knew, and I unders ...more
Art Fitz-Gerald recommended this book to me. First, it was very educating---I had no idea how common work place and school shootings have been in the last 25 years. Second, I found Ames's theory that to the future generations, these shootings will clearly appear as a nation-wide social revolution, rather than isolated incidents caused by unhinged individuals, very interesting. I wish I could remember the last line of the book, but it generally has to do with stringing up Reagan's body on the nea ...more
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