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Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,360 ratings  ·  234 reviews
From the bestselling author of Public Enemies & The Big Rich , anaccount of the battle between the FBI & revolutionary movements of the '70s: Weathermen, The Symbionese LiberationArmy, The FALN, The Black Liberation Army.The names seem quaint now, but then bombings by domestic underground groups were daily occurrences. The FBI combated these & other groups as ...more
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Penguin Press
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John Allen
Feb 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
Bryan Burrough, from what I've read, was a consultant for the "Dallas Morning Journal" and "Vanity Fair". With the way he treats the cultural phenomenon of radical vs. police violence in the 1970's ( it was just insanity with no external cause and we can shake our head in wonderment and sanctimony about it) I'm not all that shocked.

Given that he seems to know his material to a meticulous point, this makes his doe-eyed routine--"how could this happen?!"--even more offensive. Tale after tale of
...more
Tom Breen
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
The violent fringe of the American left that operated in the 1970s and 1980s is a puzzlingly overlooked phenomenon, but unfortunately, this book - for all the welcome information it newly brings to light - isn't quite the definitive history of that fringe that it purports to be.

The problem is that Burrough simultaneously includes too much and too little in this 500+ page account. Clearly a prodigious reporter, Burrough assembles his account of groups like the Weather Underground, the Black
...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Having come of age in the 1960's, I was very interested in reading this book. Bryan Burrough has done an extensive amount of research into a very difficult topic. The people who were part of The Underground are given pseudonyms if they are even interviewed at all. As the author says, he was able to make contact with them only through a group of about fifteen lawyers who represented almost every Underground member who went to trial.

I found the information about the different groups fascinating
...more
Straw
Jul 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was really looking forward to this book. I opened it up and the first paragraph of the prologue irritated me. Describing the "woman" revolutionary as still very attractive. Hmm. ok. I kept reading. I made it to ~page 100 before I threw it across the room. Women are continually described as sexual or attractive or any other bullshit misogynistic book sales kind of crap. Are they sexual? Maybe. Are the male revolutionaries described in the same sense, hell no. Does it matter? Debatable.....This ...more
Ted Morgan
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In 1972 the United States have over 1900 public bombing but it was no revolution but rather often a deadly but absurdist acting out of self-deluded radicals who lacked political insight but who loved romantic theatre. This is a fine telling of a long bloody interval in our recent history that might well account for how many people dislike or detest the notion of radical political change.

Mr. Burrough narrates his account of absurdist but violent radicals in great detail and with understanding of
...more
Katie
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm not actually done yet, but I'll feel exactly the same way when I'm done as I do now. The history is fascinating- I developed a crush on the Weather Underground as a hippie high schooler- but the author is a pompous ass. Obsessed (OBSEEEESSED) with Bernardine Dohrn's sexuality. She had other stuff going on than boobs, bro. And also clearly repulsed by the entire radical movement of the late 60s and early 70s, such that I kept thinking (THEN WHY DID YOU WRITE 580 PAGES ABOUT IT?!!). Some ...more
Perry
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"And there's some rumors going 'round, someone's underground" The Eagles, Witchy Woman, 1972



Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, turned militant radical in Symbionese Liberation Army

This is THE new treatise on the radical left of the 1970s, including the Weatherman from early 1970 to 1972, the Black Liberation Army from the Spring of 1971 to 1973, the Weather Underground in 1973, the Symbionese Liberation Army from November 1973 to 1974 and the FALN of the late 1970s , the last being the communist
...more
Jesse
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
Can't give it two and a half stars, so it gets two. This book is enormously well researched, sweeping in its scope, and detailed in its history. Someone said that it has the character of a journalist's notebook-dump, but if you're interested in the period, in many cases even the tiny weird details are interesting.

The book, however, suffers from its author's utter contempt for most of his subjects. Not all of them-- he seems to be kinder to those with whom he's spoken personally. But he gets off
...more
Eric Ruark
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
From the first page to the last, this is a 5-star book, especially for someone like me who graduated college in 1971.
Days of Rage covers the radical underground movement from 1969 to 1984 when domestic bombings were practically a daily occurance. These were the days of my youth, as Mr. Burrough called them "deranged times". Some of the people in the book I considered the Jesse James/Cole Youngers of my era. I was on the periphery of the Viet Nam anti-war movement. I took place in some
...more
Kevin Gosztola
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trash-can
No matter how much research is packed into this more than 500-page book, it is hard to get past Bryan Burrough's interest for compiling this history. Burrough is upset that most Americans—and the press—have forgotten about left-wing "terrorism" of the 1970s and how "protest bombings" occurred regularly.

Burrough thinks leftists of the 1970s, who engaged in radical acts of violence, are now viewed too softly. They are terrorists to him—terrorists that should be seen as once being as dangerous as
...more
Steven Z.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
As I sat down to prepare a review of Bryan Burrough’s latest work, DAYS OF RAGE: AMERICA’S RADICAL UNDERGROUND, THE FBI, and THE FORGOTTEN AGE OF REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE I learned that today a gunman had opened fire on a Navy and Marine Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., leaving four Marines dead, and a recruiter wounded. These types of what appear to be “lone gunman attacks” symbolize the increase in domestic terrorism in the United States, attacks that I fear will continue and be further ...more
Gordon Hilgers
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Remember the old Elvis Costello song, "Watching the Detectives"? There have been a number of memoirs and retellings of the days after the Students for a Democratic Society essentially declared war on America's military-industrial complex in a campaign they called "bring the war home", but this is the first one I have read that focuses more on what the FBI did to track-down the underground and less on what the underground was really all about. Whether telling the story about the accidental ...more
Jay Hinman
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the best works of nonfiction I've read in a while. It's a terrific overview of 1970s homegrown American left-wing terrorism; its causes, its effects; its "legacy" and so on - plus some excellent bumbling escapades from the likes of the wacky SLA and Weather Underground, and the considerably more terrifying Black Liberation Army (especially if you were a cop). Reads like a thriller at times; superbly written and something I can imagine myself returning to again in 20 years.
Michael Samerdyke
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The only reason I bought this book was because it was written by Bryan Burrough, who wrote "Public Enemies," the best book on the John Dillinger era.

In "Days of Rage," Burrough looks at the era of left-wing terrorists in the United States, a time that extended from the late Sixties to the mid-Eighties.

This is a fascinating book, bringing to mind things that are half-forgotten, like the Patty Hearst kidnapping.

"Days of Rage" is not a book about the Weather Underground. Burrough shows that
...more
RandomAnthony
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Some people seemed to hate this book more than me. I didn't hate Days of Rage but I did, like a lectured teenager, roll my eyes in its direction every now and then. Mr. Burrough tells a good story but I get the sense he was jammin' some square pegs into round holes for narrative purposes here and there. Also, the "for the first time ever we can address this" claims got a bit silly. I'm already reading the book, Mr. Burrough, you don't gotta sell it again, brother. Still, I liked Days of Rage and ...more
Nancy Oakes
I think for me this book gets about a 3.5 star rating. In this book, the author looks at the "untold story of the underground era" in America, in a time frame that lasted from 1970 through 1985. It is a very detailed, chronological look at the rise and fall of several underground radical revolutionary groups that existed during this time period, exploring motivations behind their actions, as well as attempts by law enforcement (primarily the FBI, but also police departments across the country) ...more
Alli
I'm stopping this half-way through.

The author should have included a dedication. Dear Bill O'Reilly, I didn't pal around with terrorists. These aren't my politics. Love, Bryan.
Instead, he infused his writing with the same message. He distanced himself from the book's subjects by failing to fully humanize them and writing in moral judgments. I didn't need to be told when each group crossed a line or for for Burrough to act like a horrified father watching his daughter's first orgy. I understand
...more
StevenF
Apr 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
With all this research information, Burrough's completely fails to grasp the Underground,the reason for its existence or its historic relevance to Justice issues past and present. Ironically, he continually places it out of context to The Sixties (1963-1974). All this important access and breadth of materials in the wrong shallow sometimes contemptuous hands. Tricky Dick Nixon and Crazy J. Edgar Hoover would be smiling. I fought back in The Sixties.This does not tell the story. What an ...more
Bill Sleeman
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history

Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence is an excellent and well researched book that captures not just the familiar, headline capturing revolutionaries of the 1960s but also the not so familiar figures and violence of the 1980s. While it is politics at the core the “revolution” was about people and author Bryan Burrough does a wonderful job exploring the human side of the various movements. Even when I found their actions repulsive I

...more
Ryan Lackey
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If this were fiction, it would be completely unbelievable. I didn't realize the extent of bombing campaigns in the (60s, 80s, but mostly 70s) period, the degree of incompetence and ideological motivation in those groups, lack of competence in law enforcement at the time, and incredibly light sentences most of the terrorists received. There's nothing in modern politics which even approaches this level of insanity.
Josh Friedlander
I found this book via a guest post on Status 451, but the author's conclusion - that the near-forgotten age of radical-left violence in America was incredibly violent, and the perpetrators (at least the white ones) mostly walked back into the middle-class respectability they emerged from - is only half right. The book opens in the late 60s, when it seemed like radical ideas might change the world, and revolution was just around the corner. That didn't happen, but there was something of a ...more
Erik Graff
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: old new leftists or students of the period
Recommended to Erik by: Kelly Kingdon
Shelves: history
Having read The Port Huron Statement, subscribing to Ramparts and influenced by older high school friends, I joined the Students for a Democratic Society in 1967 or '68, identifying myself with 'the New Left' while maintaining a sentimental attachment to the old, particularly the Socialist Party. In high school this didn't amount to much, just literature in the mail and the help given by the SDS national office to our school's underground newpaper's two issues.

The summer after high school,
...more
Lauren
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you're involved in the resistance in any way, this is a must read. If you're curious about how leftist activism becomes fascist or violent, this is a must read. Basically read it. Also, the audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter, my audiobook crush. Engrossing start to finish. ...more
Andy Miller
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book about those whose opposition to the Vietnam War, racial injustice and other issues turned to violence in the sixties and seventies. The title comes from an early action of the Weatherman after they broke away from the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society); a violent rampage in the streets of Chicago. The book is not just about the Weatherman, it alternates among the different groups that used violence, mainly bombings and assassinations, including the Black Panthers and the SLA, the ...more
Holly
May 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: california, history
I'm having a hard time with rating this book, let alone coming up with a coherent version of my sputtering as I read it. The research is great, as the author will tell you repeatedly, as he crows every time he brings new facts/relationships/allegations to light. It is certainly a great overview of the groups that operated on the far left and underground from the late sixties into the mid-eighties. For all that I learned from this book and all that I can;t wait to learn more about, I'll give a ...more
Andie
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
For years I've dined out on the fact that I knew Bill Harris, who kidnapped Patty Hearst, in college. When asked how that could be, i usually tell the questioner that in the 1960's, a portion of everyone you knew went totally off the rails.

Bryan Burrough does an excellent job of demonstrating how my feeling was true as he traces the history of the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Symbionese Liberation Army and The Family from their heydays in the late 1960's and
...more
Frank Stein
This book opens a window on an now almost unimaginable world. Just 40 years ago, in the early 1970s, the United States suffered through about 1500 bombings a year, almost five a day. Although most were not lethal, the fear and attention they inspired defined an era. The country at the time was filled with now forgotten acronymic Marxist groups that touted world revolution and then blew up mailboxes or bathrooms, as a means to get attention for their jargon-filled communiques. Sometimes, however, ...more
Sandra Ross
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's interesting that Freddie Gray's death and the resulting protests - and violence - in Baltimore and other cities across the U.S. occurred just about the time I hit the middle of this book.

Burrough does an excellent job of looking at the radical underground (he calls it the first age of terror, but that's a misnomer, since the kinds of cycles of sustained and radical - even the "Founding Fathers" and their peers were radicals in their day and similar incidents occurred while the British
...more
Diana H.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I was a child during the 1970's and grew up hearing about these bombings and the groups that were responsible. At the time, in a small town in rural America, it didn't make much of an impact. However, after reading this book, the whole episode was made much clearer and the reasoning behind it - while flawed from my adult point of view, might have made sense to these young people at the time. I'm not sure how violence can enact change for the positive, but as we appear to be living through a ...more
Merilee
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
I thought this book would interest me because I had lived in the SF Bay Area from the mid-60s through the mid-70s. I finally decided to chuck it in tonight before getting even halfway. Just too much dragged-out information not very compellingly told.
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Bryan Burrough joined Vanity Fair in August 1992 and has been a special correspondent for the magazine since January 1995. He has reported on a wide range of topics, including the events that led to the war in Iraq, the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, and the Anthony Pellicano case. His profile subjects have included Sumner Redstone, Larry Ellison, Mike Ovitz, and Ivan Boesky.

Prior to joining
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“People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States,” notes a retired FBI agent, Max Noel. “People don’t want to listen to that. They can’t believe it. One bombing now and everyone gets excited. In 1972? It was every day. Buildings getting bombed, policemen getting killed. It was commonplace.” 7 likes
“radical violence was so deeply woven into the fabric of 1970s America that many citizens, especially in New York and other hard-hit cities, accepted it as part of daily life. As one New Yorker sniffed to the New York Post after an FALN attack in 1977, “Oh, another bombing? Who is it this time?” 1 likes
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