Ciara's Reviews > Rads: The 1970 Bombing of the Army Math Research Center at the University of Wisconsin and Its Aftermath

Rads by Tom Bates
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Dec 05, 08

bookshelves: autobio-memoir, radical-non-fiction, read-in-2006
Recommended for: anti-war historians, people interested in symbolic violence, madison historians
Read in July, 2006, read count: once

well. this was a little bit ridiculous. okay, background: in 1970, this hippie wingnut character thought it would be a cool idea to plant a bomb at the army math research center on the university of winsconsin campus in madison. there was some research going on there that was funded by & benefited the united states army, which was, of course, at the time engaged in the highly unpopular invasion of vietnam. tons of people in the late 60s & early 70s were bombing ROTC offices, research labs, government offices, recruitments centers, memorial statuary, etc. some estimates have the figure at over one hundred bombings a day. i think maybe bombing shit was a lot easier back then. fewer security cameras & such forth. anyway, this guy recruited a couple of pals & they hatched their scheme. they sourced materials & built their bomb & planted it & drove away & called in the threat & everything looked like it was going off without a hitch. but they didn't bank on a research scientist--a grad student at the university (as jared will hopefully be soon)--staying in his lab late to do some work. the student died in the blast--one of the very few people to have ever died in any of these hundreds of bombings that were orchestrated in this time period. the bombers were arrested. at some point, they also wanted to do some kind of ridiculous bombing from one of those six-seater prop planes. what the eff? anyway, this book goes into the backgrounds, family histories, & political leanings of all the bombers involved as well as the scientist who died, & contextualizes the historical opposition to the war & the home-grown symbolic violence that was employed in protest & overall gives a really good overview of the whole situation. all the bombers are long out of jail now & the main dude continued to live in madison, where he opened an ice cream parlor or some ridiculous shit like that. really, it was a pretty good book. a must-read for anyone interested in the actual subject of the army math bombing, & probably a good read for people curious about the opposition to the vietnam war in general, though there are other books that offer a little more breadth & scope of analysis.
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