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Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  420 ratings  ·  89 reviews
"Belew's book helps explain how we got to today's alt right."―Terry Gross, Fresh Air

The white power movement in America wants a revolution. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview made up of white supremacy, virulent anticommunism, and apocalyptic faith. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by Harvard University Press
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Kelly
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I remember reading a passage in The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President by Taylor Branch where he describes the behind-the-scenes befuddlement of Clinton (and others close to him) after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995; they couldn’t generate any willingness by Republican lawmakers to investigate violent, anti-government extremists. Even with blood in the streets, conservative lawmakers were instead committed to rallying behind the anti-governm ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Terrifying book on the rise and unification of white power groups after the Vietnam War. The book covers a period from about the time of the end of Vietnam War to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. During the supposedly color-blind post-civil rights era a cohort of vets with racist ideology brought their training from the battlefields in Vietnam and applied them to bringing race war back home. Starting with a conflict between locals and Vietnamese refugees in fishing communities on the Texas coa ...more
Mikey B.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Page 106 (my book) President Reagan’s inaugural address 1981

“In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Page 104
In 1983 the white power movement declared war on the state... white power activists now fought for a white homeland, attempted to destabilize the federal government, and waged revolutionary race war.

This book is about the rise of radical right wing groups (meaning white supremacists for the most part) in the United Sta/>In/>“In
...more
Mehrsa
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So I've been reading a lot of books about the rise of white power groups and this was my favorite because it was a solid and serious historic book as opposed to just a journalist interviewing these groups or a memoir.

The book was excellent and I could talk about just this book all day, but I want to do something different and do a double review. I like to read several books at a time and it just so happened that I read the Looming Tower (about Al Qaeda) by Lawrence Wright at the same time as I
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Jo Stafford
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bring the War Home makes deeply disturbing reading. From the violent harassment of Vietnamese refugees in Texas to the Oklahoma City bombing, Kathleen Belew traces the increasing militarization of the white power movement back to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, when returning military personnel brought home the expertise they had developed in handling weapons and explosives and then used those skills in the service of racist ideology and a war against the U.S. government.

Murder, ar
...more
Shane
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books ever written on the white power movement, essential for understanding how it crystalized into lone-wolf terror. A must read.
Ctgt
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Recently I was watching a Frontline episode on hate groups emerging from the shadows and heard the author of this book mention that there was a marked increase in these groups after every major war so I decided to check out the book. Have to admit I was a bit disappointed but that was probably more about my expectations than the book itself. I was hoping for a more comprehensive look at this trend but found the author spending the majority of the book discussing the post-Vietnam time frame.
The
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Zach
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Belew has written an important and groundbreaking history of the post-Vietnam white power movement. Her account differs from earlier studies because of its attention to the imperial dimensions of pot-Vietnam white power's imaginary and scope, as well as the central role of the US war in Vietnam in remapping how white supremacists understood the state, revolutionary violence, and whiteness. Equally important is how Belew historicizes the figure of the Lone Wolf in a deliberate strategy of "Leader ...more
Stephen
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5/5. This is an important work. And an alarming one. Highly recommended.

We are sleep-walking through a prolonged campaign by the white power movement since the 1970's (roots go back much further) that largely operates at the fringes but occasionally, and quite violently, makes its presence felt. The seemingly unnatural amalgamation of long-standing racist, anti-communist groups like the various iterations/factions of the KKK (KKKK, CKKKK, etc) with neo-Nazi's and skinheads and tax evaders and
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Rebecca
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
In some ways this book covers the same ground as other books on this particular branch of the far right by such as authors as Leonard Zeskind, Daniel Levitas, Matthew Lyons, and Chip Berlet . What's different about Belew's account is the tight focus on the role of mythology of the Vietnam war in the foundations of the militant wing of the white supremacist right and the conciseness of her survey that covers the racist militant right in different locations from the 1970s through the Oklahoma City ...more
Gayla Bassham
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, _I'm_ terrified.
David M
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Part 1, chapter 4: Ronald Reagan was subcontracting foreign policy to white power militias. This is worth remembering when both Democrats and Republicans claim that Donald Trump represents some unspeakable degradation of what came before.

This book shows that much that we have come to think of as features of a new or resurgent far right movement go back at least a few decades.
David Bjelland
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: muckraking, history
Cons (minor):
- A bit dry and repetitive in places

Pros (major):
- Timely
- Chilling
- Dazzlingly well-researched

The killer paragraph, from the epilogue:

What was left unfinished, unexplained, and unconfronted about white power meant that it could resurge in the years following 1995. White power should have been legible as a coherent social movement but was instead largely narrated and prosecuted as scattered actions and inexplicable lone wolf attacks moti
...more
Unwisely
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018, america
This book was by turns depressing, frustrating, and scary. It focuses on the rise of the white power movement (and paramilitary culture) after the Vietnam war. I guess we all found out that this mindset is depressingly common during the 2016 election but she traces various threads that all knitted together. Also recounts the absolute lack of punishment the men (almost exclusively men, although the support roles played by women are also covered) got.

Definitely reinforces that the mili
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Louis
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Kathleen Bellew’s [Bring the War Home] is the story of the rise of the modern “white power” movement. Although some groups had existed for much of American history, these groups and newer ones capitalized on the disappointment and distrust resulting from the aftermath of the Vietnam War. As time progressed the movement gained in strength and numbers and committed acts of violence and gradually gained the attention of law enforcement. However, the movement did not come under significant media and ...more
Katie
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I often think my opinion of the US Criminal Justice System can’t get lower. Then I read a book like this that examines the history of white power groups and how they benefited from our failed system.

I also didn’t realize an entire chapter was devoted to the Greensboro Massacre and as a non-native Greensboro resident that was interesting and depressing history to learn more about.
Cristobal
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a bunch of dangerous and violent yahoos.
Joseph Stieb
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An urgent new book about the modern white power movement that reframes much of our understanding about racism, paramilitary violence, and the far right. Belew argues that the Vietnam War sparked the formation of a new white power movement that eventually drew in a revived Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical anti-tax protestors, a variety of conspiracy theorists and militiamen. The Vietnam War created a narrative in which soldiers felt betrayed by a country that "made them fight with one hand tie ...more
Kevin Maness
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. To me, the most important takeaway is that the leaderless structure of the violent white power movement succeeded in obscuring its nature as a movement. In 2019, we talk about "lone wolf" violence and rarely look beyond single shooters to the networks of which they are a part. Perhaps the Web makes this even harder, because now someone can be connected with and radicalized by the white power movement without ever meeting a single movement member or leader, without bein ...more
Andrew Pratley
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating book which tells the story of the white power movement in the USA mainly during the period from the end of Vietnam War until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

What it reveals is a coherent white power movement which operated with a clear ideology & modus operandi. The movement which ran under many names was linked in often by long term activists popping up in various guises. These links were often literally familial as a result of marriage. It shows how inadequately the authorit
...more
Nils
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-history
An excellent history of the revolutionary white power movement in the United States, from its origins in the 1970s in the aftermath of the Vietnam debacle to its climax with the OKC bombing in 1995. Provides great insight into the social and political worldview of an odious and fringe but hardly unimportant movement in American political life. Particularly deft in drawing the connections to the much broader New Right politics, while also clearly delineating where the White Power movement went fr ...more
Diane Thomas
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bring the War Home, by Kathleen Belew, is a must read for anyone seeking a deep understanding of our current political climate. It traces the white power movement from years immediately following the Vietnam War to the aftermath of the bombing in Oklahoma City. Meticulously researched (the author is a historian in the College at the University of Chicago), it is balanced, scholarly and a fascinating read. I commend it especially to historians, journalists, political scientists--and anyone puzzle ...more
Idzie
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended to anyone wanting to understand the foundation on which the modern "alt-right," and general fascist resurgence, is built upon. Written by a historian of the white power movement, Kathleen Belew writes clearly and persuasively of the links between state violence (war in particular) and increased para-militarism, how more mainstream racist ideas feed into and protect violent racist movements, and how understanding the movement's history is crucial to heading off future violence.
Aaron Culley
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A disturbing but important and very thorough account of recent history that too few people are aware of, and which I suspect many people would rather not know about. If you think that the KKK died out or faded away in the 1970s, this book documents very clearly that they are still very active in our society.
Michelle Nijhuis
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Powerfully documents the white power-paramilitary movement in the US from the Vietnam era to the present. Very readable, very important.
Rachel
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Belew sometimes strains to apply the lens of the Vietnam War to her subject (ie: white power groups in the late 1980s and early 1990s feared the gov was surveilling them with black Huey helicopters -> Huey helicopters were used in Vietnam = further evidence of the framework of the Vietnam War at play in the white power mindset). In that way, I didn't get the sense that the men in her book were necessarily bringing the war home as much as they were bringa war home.

The much stronger argumentbring
...more
Boyd Addlesperger
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Frightening....both the twisted ideology of the white power movement and the incompetence of federal authorities in dealing with the threat posed. Somehow it all leads in a straight line to Donald Trump.


Jeff
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good telling of the events & mindset that led to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Rj
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Belew who is an Assistant History Professor has written a detailed study on the white power movement and how it was related to the rise of paramilitary groups in the United States following the Vietnam War to the present. It is a fascinating book showing how disparate splintered groups with often divergent ideologies connected over their dominant racist beliefs and fears. The book is important for anyone seeking to understand recent political changes and the shift to the right in the United Stat ...more
Rick
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Quite detailed and academic. Not nearly as interesting a read as I was anticipating
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Kathleen Belew unearthed the lives of her white power militant subjects in previously classified FBI documents, newspapers published from Nicaragua to New York, and vivid personal testimonies, letters, and illustrations. Tracking the path of violence through thousands of pages of documents over more than a decade of research and writing, her work provides an insight and authority rarely seen in su ...more