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The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller, the Battle over Abortion, and the New American Civil War
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The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller, the Battle over Abortion, and the New American Civil War

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author offers an in-depth account of the life and death of a controversial doctor, the debate that sparked his assassination, and the place where two Americas collide

On May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder walked into a Wichita church, drew a pistol, and shot Dr. George Tiller at point blank range. Tiller, who was the most public practitioner of late
Hardcover, 357 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 07, 2012 Bill Kerwin rated it it was ok
Shelves: history

Although this is a professional, well-written piece of journalism, it disappointed me. I think this was primarily because the author tried to do two different things at once: write a dual biography of Tiller and Roeder and also trace the course of the entire pro-life movement over the last forty years. Consequently, his treatment of both was superficial.

I was primarily interested in the dual biography, and, although I found out some interesting things I didn't know--Dr. Tiller wore a mink coat
Mary Frances
Aug 07, 2011 Mary Frances rated it really liked it
Wow, this is a disturbing book about not just the murder of Dr. Tillman by a mentally ill anti-abortion fanatic but about the danger that right-wing, home grown terrorism poses to our country. When the rule of law is seen as toxic, and anyone can decide to take matters into his/her own hands, we are in deep trouble. Insight into the effect that right-wing TV and radio personalities have and how they stoke the fire in unbalanced people is also pretty scary. Why don't people understand that if we ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
This is a well documented (though decidedly biased) and pretty dry read but it is worth plowing through. Tells the story of Scott Roeder’s assassination of late term abortion doctor ‘Tiller the Killer' back in May 09, it’s a real eye opener. What I learned from reading this book is that this woman’s rights issue is not ever going to be decided based on what is right for women or for their unborn children. It will be decided based on the political agenda of whatever party happens to be in power, ...more
Mark Stevens
May 29, 2011 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
In gripping fashion, "The Wichita Divide" puts the murder of Dr. George Tiller into a much larger and much more worrisome context. The murder itself was outrageous enough--the cold-blooded shot to the head that killed Dr. Tiller in the sanctuary of his church by a man, Scott Roeder, whose fanatical anti-abortion zeal was so over-the-top that he actually believed he was justified in taking the life of another human being.

Singular simultaneously digs into the years leading up to murder but he also
Aug 31, 2011 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: abortion
In this deeply biased book, Singular plays hard and fast with the facts, omitting a great deal of relevant information. He paints George Tiller as a saint and demonizes every conservative and pro-life individual in America. He seems unable to grasp that not every pro-life individual is right wing and racist. He repeatedly equates being pro-life with hating African Americans and Jews and with supporting all kinds of anti-government activity.

I have been involved in the pro-life movement for twenty
Aug 08, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
Recommended to Jim by: library patron Bob
Fascinating and informative story of the well financed extreme right wing in this nation. I have some isues with the writing, but the story is so strong it is easy to overlook the writing.

I had just read "Freakonomics," which led me to this book. In "Freakonomics" author Levitt discusses the drop in crime related to access to abortion. He comments that whatever ones views, it seems to him that women generally make good choices when abortion is safe and legal.

The murdered Dr. Tiller came to a sim
Nov 02, 2011 Tyler rated it really liked it
My hometown is Wichita and I worked for The Wichita Eagle and for the Sedgwick County District Attorney's office. Both of which were close to the issues in this book (battle over abortion rights, the 1991 "Summer of Mercy, etc). So I feel that I lived through the Dr. Tiller controversy and his murder. The Wichita Divide was a well-written book that I think captures the issues and people involved.
Jul 05, 2011 Tracie rated it liked it
A pretty good breakdown of the far right anti-abortion movement. I never realized how much of the movement is basically trying to get people to kill abortion doctors, while hiding behind the First Amendment. It's all very troubling. The book gets a little repetitive near the end and spends too much time on a soap opera type scandal involving the former Attorney General of Kansas.
Katherine Williams
Jun 05, 2011 Katherine Williams rated it really liked it
This book kept me awake. This book is about more than abortion. The author shows how there has been an alarming increase in violence from the extreme right wing. It is a trend that is making the United State an increasingly violent place to live.
Feb 12, 2013 Paige rated it it was amazing
I recommend this to all of my friends who are interested in pro-choice issues or want to learn more about the abortion wars that consumed this country during the last forty years. If you aren't pro-choice after you read this book, I don't know what to do with you.
Aug 29, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it
The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion, by Stephen Singular, is an account of Dr. George Tiller's murder and the history of conflict that led up to it. Dr. Tiller was shot to death by Scott Roeder in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church where he served as an usher and where his wife Jeanne sang in the choir. In order to set up the atmosphere in which this murder took place, Singular traced the abortion conflict in Wichita, Kansas, back to its beginni ...more
Eugen Hruska
Mar 31, 2017 Eugen Hruska rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist
Jul 11, 2011 Leighann rated it liked it
Overall, a very interesting and gripping read. Singular threads together several incidences of "justifiable" violence carried out by extremists over the past 25 years with the incidences of violence that brought about the civil war. Violence in our day and time however, is not limited to physical violence. Singular takes on the nation's obsession with political ideologies, polarization, and misinformation via talking heads. Violence therefore is verbal, emotional, and mental. It is this violence ...more
Bonnie McDaniel
This is the story of Scott Roeder and Dr. George Tiller, and how the two came together in a burst of violence in 2009.

But there's so much more to the story than that. The author traces Roeder's life, and how he fell in with extreme anti-abortion groups and became an extremist himself, to the point where he felt it was perfectly justified to murder Dr. Tiller in the name of "saving babies." This is some dark, scary stuff, wonderfully fleshed out by the author.

He also tells how Dr. Tiller fell in
I assumed early on that I would like this book, as I adamantly support a woman's right to choose. The author does a fairly good job of weaving Tiller and Roeder's narratives together to create an engaging book.

Soon into the book I was disappointed to realize the author didn't cite any sources for anything he mentions - what the what! How can you write a contemporary non-fiction book, quoting news and statistics, and not cite any sources? Right off the bat that knocked the book's credibility down
May 07, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: law students, feminists, liberals, conservatives, ppl too young to remember the media pre-Fox (1996)
Recommended to Michelle by: Rachel Maddow
Shelves: drama, non-fiction, crime
This book had a lot of new information for me. I only knew about the assassination of Dr. Tiller due to a few mentions of him on the Rachel Maddow Show around the time the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords was bringing the mixed bag of gun violence, mental health problems, and violent political rhetoric back to the forefront of the national discussion. I decided to pick up this book and was taken back to a horrible, violent, and turbulent period in our nation's history that I certain ...more
An excellent read that does a pretty good job of exploring all the issues of the abortion debate even though you can tell that the author is 100% pro-choice and has zero sympathy for the opinions of people in the other camp. Please note this is primarily written as an exploration into the activities of what the author considers a network of right-wing hate groups. He focuses mostly on the murder of a single abortion provider and the clear mental imbalance of his killer, and I have to say he frus ...more
Kelsey McKim
Nov 21, 2014 Kelsey McKim rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
This is not an unbiased description of a political event, and I think Singular exaggerated some aspects, but it was definitely an interesting read and I appreciated it for what it was. Singular equated the split over abortion to America's "second civil war," which I find extreme. Also, some of his writing seemed a touch sexist, which I thought was unexpected given that he was writing about abortion. You'd think that someone who chose to write about abortion from a clearly pro-choice perspective ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Deb rated it really liked it
After meeting the author recently, I decided I needed to read one of his books. I chose this one because of the location being Wichita which was very near the small Kansas town I grew up in. I was expecting your typical murder story but I found a whole lot more. A dissection of our country's disturbing trend of domestic terrorism, our very dirty political system, our lack of mental health for those in need, the hotly debated abortion issue, how the law can often be bent to suit immediate needs a ...more
This book drew a fascinating and disturbing picture of all of the elements of the perfect storm that lead to the murder of women's health clinic owner, Dr. George Tiller. When the actual event happened, for someone not actually *in* Wichita, the entire thing seemed like a heinous act of a random lunatic. Here, a different reality is presented -- one in which current events, right-wing rhetoric, and yes, one man's fragile mental state played off each other to create the exact opposite of a vacuum ...more
K.j. Dell'antonia
May 04, 2011 K.j. Dell'antonia rated it really liked it
Watch for this as XXFactor's BOTW (book of the week) on Friday. I went to high school in Wichita. I had a boyfriend whose mom was arrested for handcuffing herself to Dr. Tiller's car, and who had his elementary aged brother and sibling holding signs outside the clinic--but who hadn't done anything of the sort when my friend was a kid. We grew up with this growing culture war, and this is a pretty fantastic overview of it. It's got its meandering moments, and it's not always sure if it's a true c ...more
Jerry Smith
Probably a book everyone should read regardless of your views on this explosive and heart rending topic. Covers the facts of the murder of Tiller with extensive background into him personally, as well as that of his murderer, although not into the historical background per se.

The murder and the lead up to it are detailed, as is the story of the trial that follows. I think Singular does a good job of setting it in context too.
A powerful book. It makes me reflect on how society is affecting people, how it is shaping my POV on certain issues.
Especially interesting that the author identified with the humane need to be something more, to fight for something more in this day and age to be one of the many factors that led to this 'new american civil war'. We have so much but sometimes we feel so lost. And I can totally empathize with that!

Eye opening read. The author made factual reporting very engaging!
Aug 01, 2011 Shannon rated it liked it
While the writing was at times a bit convoluted and self-aggrandizing (about the author's personal opinions and connection), The Wichita Divide tells an interesting story. It weaves together a larger context of other acts of extremist violence and even pulls in talk media as a part of the story. As a native Kansan, I found it interesting and informative.
Shana Dennis
Sep 10, 2015 Shana Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It still amazes me that people who have nothing better to do than harass women going into an abortion clinic continue to get applause and funding from high and mighty politicians. The events of this book detail the consequences of turning an amused blind eye to the extreme segments of the antichoice movement.
Mar 29, 2012 Kb rated it liked it
When is terrorism not terrorism? When it's carried out against women's health clinics. And doctors are killed.

Usually I'm one to tell people to read the books, but I enjoyed Rachel Maddow's "The Assassination of Doctor Tiller" better. I think she reached out to more people who knew Doctor Tiller and didn't have the inane self-justification of a generation at the end, like this book.
Apr 11, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Profoundly disturbing book about the state of abortion rights in this country. One does not need to look outside our own borders to discover terrorism . . . domestic terrorism is deeply in our midst.
Apr 14, 2011 Ellen rated it it was amazing
This book was a difficult one for me to get through. The courage of Dr. Tiller is evident when reading this, and Singular did an excellent job researching all of the people involved in and all the events leading up to the murder.
Kent Hohlfeld
Jul 07, 2012 Kent Hohlfeld rated it did not like it
read this book largely because I grew up in Wichita, but this book meandered so much I lost interest. It goes from tiller story to his killer's story to a dissertation on the prolife movement. Too little focus.
Mike Arnold
Nov 12, 2012 Mike Arnold rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, especially if you (like me) are from the area. I think it is a fair portrayal of all involved. Highly recommend this one.
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Share This Book

“You can't really protect women or men from their choices, so let them
have their own lives and trust the process. Given the history of
society's efforts to control women's sexuality and reproduction, this
remained a revolutionary idea. No wonder it disturbed and frightened
some people so deeply.”
“As with Randall Terry and other anti-abortion leaders, women simply
did not figure into [Roeder's] equations. If all the abortion
providers were dead, the problem would be solved, and he'd never have
to think about those who sought to end their pregnancies through
illegal or dangerous means.”
More quotes…