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Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A stunning look inside the world of violent hate groups by a onetime white supremacist leader who, shaken by a personal tragedy, realized the error of his ways and abandoned his destructive life to become an anti-hate activist. As he stumbled through high school, struggling to find a community among other fans of punk rock music, Christian Picciolini was recruited by a now ...more
Paperback, First Edition, 358 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Goldmill Group
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  328 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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David Schaafsma
An engaging and unique memoir about an Italian-American kid who grew up in Blue Island/Chicago, a good kid living with his loving grandparents who at 14 got recruited into a white supremacist group and actually rose to power in it. It's ultimately a redemption narrative--he gets out of the group, of course--and a cautionary tale about American culture--see all the groups of people at the fringes of the Trump rallies to see why this book would be interesting to you. It's a book that, like books a ...more
Emily Belden
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly life changing. As a jew, I never thought I'd read a book about a skinhead. However, my husband met Christian and got his book. It wound up on my nightstand and I couldn't stop reading it. I finished it in 24 hours. For as horrific as the experiences were, I found the book poised. Controlled. I very much enjoyed the storytelling and didn't find it self-indulgent as most memoirs can be. I truly will recommend this book as "your next must read" for a very, very long time.
Kressel Housman
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
After Charlottesville, this ex-neo-Nazi was making the rounds on the talk shows, promoting the support group he created to deprogram neo-Nazis. His mission and message clearly deserve 5 stars, but the book gets a little bogged down in personal details, so I’m giving it a 4. But it’s a thorough picture of a boy with a normal, if lonely, childhood, how the neo-Nazis gave him a social life at last, how he rose in its ranks, and how he became disillusioned with it. Everyone should read it.

Aside from
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I know the author and subject of this book -- impersonally at first, as someone on the opposite side of the ideological fence when I was a teenager; and personally since his request that I help edit early drafts of this book because of that same polarized adolescent acquaintance.

I was at least as reluctant to help Christian work on his life story as many others might be to read it. I wasn't sure I cared to believe that someone who spewed so much hate and brought so much fear an
Dilyana Deneva
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Прекрасно е да влезеш в книжарница, да прекараш час-два в нея, разлиствайки различни хартиени съкровища, накрая да се спреш на едно (две, три?) и да си излезеш предоволен от новата покупка. Ето това наричам аз удовлетворителен шопинг!

Има обаче и други начини една книга да стигне до теб, някои стандартни, други – не съвсем. Днес смятам да ви разкажа историята на номер 42 от „Romantic Violence. Memoirs of an American Skinhead“.

От тази биография има издадени сто бройки, които авторът сам разпростра
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is well written and I found it a compelling read. My attention never wandered for a second! That is hardly surprising since the book is action packed and appears to be honestly written. Christian Picciolini certainly doesn't spare himself here any more than he may have spared his 'victims'.

A rather "weedy", lonely kid to start with, his parents worked long hours and he spent a lot of time with his grandparents. Loved but emotionally starved perhaps, the school bully may or may not have done
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A dark read, but knowing he saw the light, pulled himself through, and is now an advocate for peace makes it worth the read.
Georgia Choate
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
RV was an exceptional memoir. For Picciolini's end goal to work, to convince others of his change, his efforts took a lot of sincerity. I was originally motivated by the promise on the book cover that he would be reformed by the end combined with my base desire to know what violence he committed. How deep into hatred did he go?

(At first my real uneasiness with the movement was not relating to racism. I'm a woman, and it irked me that his was another destructive war story. Naturally, he speaks fr
Anika Rothingham
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to this memoir as a chance to understand what drives racist skinheads to do what they do, and an opportunity to learn how to get through to them. One the one hand, Picciolini does an amazing job and remembering and recounting his thoughts and where they led. You can totally see how he got caught up in that mess. But I was also hoping to understand how he got out of it and what turned him around. 90% of the book is the story of Picciolini's skin-head life, with nausea ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015, kindle
One of the reasons I read memoirs is to understand someone who has had an experience nothing like anything I ever have or will. In this case, to get a handle on something I haven't been exposed to and don't understand. The book was queued to my Kindle for reading when Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, gunned down several people in South Carolina. I decided it was time to push it up the list.

Romantic Violence is at times infuriating and frustrating (knowing where it is headed and having 20/20 hin
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Is there life after hate? What could transform a racist, a skinhead and a homophob into a caring and loving person, who embraces diversity? How do we pay for our sins? Christian Picciolini gives a very powerful answer to these questions. I've been astonished by the honest, open and emotional narrative. And sure that many others may find their way back to normality after reading his words. An important read in times of arising nationalism, violence and rage against migrants, minorities, etc.

Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Už dlho som nečítala žiadny skutočný príbeh. Tento konkrétny padol v súčasnej politickej atmosfére doma i vo svete na úrodnú pôdu. V príbehu Christiana Piccioliniho, tak ako v mnohých iných, sa potvrdzuje, že osamelé detstvo a nedostatok vzorov v kľúčovom veku vedie mladých k veľmi, naozaj veľmi zlým rozhodnutiam. Som rada, že autor knihy našiel svoje šťastie. Kiežby sa ho podarilo šíriť ďalej.
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that should be read. It should be read by everyone who has compassion and who has interest in human growth. I'm truly amazed by Christians story.
Alisea Thenea
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Silná autobiografická kniha muža, mladého skinheda, ktorý obdivoval Hitlera a sám sa tešil moci a strachu, ktorú vyvolával. Na mnohých stranách som ho mala plné zuby, toľko ega a slepej nenavisti pokope. Nakoniec sa mu však otvorili oči, prišla katarzia a pochopil, že celá ta jeho nenavist je postavená na klamstvách. Fajn, kniha by mohla sluzit ako navod pre všetky holohlave stratene bytosti a je celkom fajn, ze bola distribuovaná do škol pre mladých. Človek obcas zabludi, dolezite je, aby sa zn ...more
Jackie Vazquez
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I put this on hold on a whim one day, after reading an interview of Picciolini with one of my students. This is easily one of the best books I've read in 2017. Picciolini is honest, open, and doesn't mince words while baring his truth. It's easy to see how vulnerable kids can get swept up in any sort of ideology while looking for somewhere to belong. I hesitate to recommend it to my students because of the strong language throughout; instead, I'll aim to share the message of love and acceptance ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good. Very interesting. It must hard been hard for the author to write. It's written as a memoir, so we are with the author and hearing his thoughts and "reasoning" as he is introduced, then embraces, then has doubts, and finally leaves the white supremacist movement.
Christopher Long
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The bullet points alone create compelling "curb appeal" and make this story an easy sell. Born to Italian immigrant parents in the early '70s, Picciolini is an adorable little boy. Growing up in a small town outside of Chicago, he comes of age during the mid '80s. Seeking his "place in the world," he's driven to achieve greatness — to become a champion athlete or a life-saving hero. However, Picciolini's all-American ambition soon turns to a misguided, out of control hunger for power and glory. ...more
Jonathan Chavez
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a tough read. Not only because of the hate rhetoric used during his time as a skinhead. But seeing such an innocent, impressionable child (he was only 14 when recruited!) be preyed upon by hate mongers and then what he went through when realizing he was wrong and going through he change. What happened with his brother. His family. It was quite sad but also moving. You can tell that he is trying to make up for his sins by writing this book. That’s he’s spending his life doing good. I thi ...more
Mária Šumichrastová
Silný a pútavý príbeh. Dospievajúce deti a mladí sú ľahko ovplyvniteľní a manipulovateľní. Môže to mať fatálne následky. Autor, jeden zo zakladateľov skinhedského hnutia v USA, odhaľuje celý svoj život. Čitateľ sa prenesie do amerických predmestí, cíti pach i vôňu tamojšieho života v 80. a 90. rokoch. Okrem opisu búrlivého života autora sa dozvieme aj veľa informácii o hnutí white power. Mne sa asi najviac páčili záverečné kapitoly. Ukazujú, že sa dá nájsť nádej aj v úzkostiach a obrovskej ťarch ...more
Dani Scott
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Super relevant for our times. Christian Picciolini started a group in Chicago called Life After Hate after living a life of hate, racism, and violence. He started out listening to white power music because he liked the way it sounded, the lyrics were unimportant to him until he was about 14 years old. At that point, he was taken under the wings of older skinheads who very much believed all of the vitriol being spewed by these bands. His feelings of powerlessness at watching his parents strugglin ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i think what i respect the most about Christian is that he changed himself. it's very difficult to alter your path - especially a violently meteoric one such as his - but he did it and is using his experiences for the betterment of the world. to be able to apologize, to grow, to move forward - very helpful and inspirational story for anyone. can be extrapolated to addiction recovery as well (for me).

hails to you, Mr. Picciolini.
Heather Osborne
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed on behalf of Readers' Favorite

Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead by Christian Picciolini chronicles the author’s experiences growing up in Blue Island, a working class neighborhood in Chicago during the 1980s-1990s. Christian’s life as the son of first generation Italian immigrants is difficult, and he often finds himself left to the care of his grandparents. Not really fitting in anywhere, Christian discovers the world of neo-Nazism through a man named Clark Martell. He
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are many stories and core believes that compete for our ultimate loyalty and trust. As I was driving to a vigil last week, UM-Dearborn Rises Against Hate, I heard an interview on NPR with Christian Picciolini, who was for seven years a neo-Nazi skinhead. He wrote his book, in the hope that others will understand how disturbingly easy it is for someone without prior inclination toward prejudice or violence to enter a world laden with unadulterated hate; that others may see the desire to bel ...more
Whitney LePore
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the early stages of the book, the reader is easily hooked on the story of a first generation American with parents pursuing success hard and fast. As the story builds, the language, the images and the pain are beautifully expressed, so much so that I often felt uncomfortable reading accounts of violence and blind hatred. By far the saddest and most rewarding chapters in the book recount Mr. Picciolini's fall from the heights of power to the lows of despair. Loss, uncertainty, remorse and fe ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling story of one person's descent into white supremacy and departure from it. The book starts with a recollection of youth that serves to humanize and set the conditions where the seed of hate can grow. Piccolini gives an unflinching history of his actions and feelings during his time in the white supremacy movement. Of especial interest was the cognitive dissonance that he experienced between his various beliefs and experiences and how he eventually realized was incompatible. T ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful and moving

I bought this book in the aftermath of Charlottesville as a way to try to make sense of what was happening in our country. I'm so glad I did. At times hard to read, Mr. Picciolini holds nothing back describing his youth as a skinhead and neo-Nazi. I just finished reading it and I'm humbled by his bravery to document everything so unflinchingly, and impressed how he took total responsibility for his actions. This book is a must-read, a womderful tale of redemption that we are l
Fred Pilarczyk
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Romantic Violence is a dark, heavy read. The way it is written is different than most books of this ilk, since Picciolini actually puts you in the mindset he was as he was growing up. Due to this, the violence, language, and pure hatred can feel very offensive at times.
The pace is very brisk, and before you know it you will be finished with it. If you are into subcultures, have ever had friends or known skinheads, or just want to read something that is basically a shovel to the face then pick th
Paula Hess
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very well-written, great pace, and fascinating and thought-provoking conclusion. A friend lent me this book and I was slightly skeptical that I would complete it based in the subject matter and the number of pages, but I found the story irresistible and, as a Chicagoland native who was into industrial music in the mid-80s who frequented a few of the locations mentioned, I found myself wondering how many people we knew in common. Just goes to show you never know where evil lurks, and also that pe ...more
Katrina K
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads win. Will read and review once received.

This was a well written book. I will admit I was a little apprehensive when first reading this book. I usually just read fictional books, but every now and then throw in a nonfiction read. This was definitely worth it. I have always had a weird fascination about Skinheads. Mainly the thinking behind what makes them join the group and what its like. This is a book I recommend to friends and family. I found myself having a hard time putting the boo
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Christian Picciolini is an Emmy Award-winning director and producer, a published author, TEDx speaker, global peace advocate, and a reformed extremist. His work and life purpose bear witness to a deep-seated desire to atone for his grisly past, and an urgency to transform the hurts and wounds he inflicted into vehicles for profound healing. Christian tenaciously works to use the redemption he has ...more
“Bol som taký slepý a prehnane ctižiadostivý, že som svojim skutočným emóciam nevenoval pozornosť a vinu som hádzal na druhých - čiernych, gejov, Židov a všetkých ostatných, ktorí sa odo mňa odlišovali. Pripisoval som im vinu za moje vlastné problémy, na ktorých nemali žiadny podiel. Moje neodôvodnene zdesenie sa rýchlo a neoprávnene začalo prejavovať ako zlostná nenávisť, ktorá sa ešte zradikalizovala pôsobením tých, ktorí vo mne videli ľahko formátovateľného chlapca. A keďže som zúfalo potreboval dať svojmu životu nejaký zmysel, žral som všetky drobky, ktorými ma kŕmili a ktoré sa tvárili ako významné. Stotožnil som sa s nimi a pripustil som, aby zatienili môj skutočný charakter. Pomocou nezvládnutej nevraživosti som sa stal jedným veľkým nafúknutým rasistickým surovcom. Chorobne nafúknutým od tých nekonečných lží, kt. ma kŕmili ti, ktorí zneužili moju mladickú naivitu a osamelosť. Pažravo som si pochutnával na jedoch.
Nastal čas, aby som sa tých posratých jedov raz a navždy zbavil. Sedem rokov tvrdohlavého popierania pravdy a ľudskosti si žiada neuveriteľné množstvo energie. Ako dvadsaťjedenročný som už nemal silu angažovať sa v neustálom boji s vlastným svedomím.”
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