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Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  25 reviews
An “epic exploration” of the 2016 right-wing Oregon Occupation-"an excellent microcosm by which we might better understand our difficult national history and distressing political moment” (Maggie Nelson).

In 2016, a group of armed, divinely inspired right-wing protestors led by Ammon Bundy occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the high desert of eastern Oregon.
Kindle Edition, 437 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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James Tugend
Aug 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Not enough

I was aghast that the author first mentioned and then ignored the vicious and vile racism his subjects dIsplayed. i.e. 'if you see a Jew, run a sword through him.' This may not be an exact quote, but is an example of the book's structure and impact. These moron's come across as quasi-heros.

James Tugend
Steve Hill
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meandering story of the Bundy cases, which amazingly resulted in zero convictions against the clan. A poet’s exploration of a myriad issues- the history, proper use, and future of public lands; a mutant strain of Mormonism where God speaks directly to his chosen ones and guides them on his reading of the US Constitution and the meaning of personal freedom; juror nullification and the randomness of the court system; the continuing injustice to Native. Americans from theft and misuse of their ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved McCann’s goals for what he wanted to convey. I learned much that is going to stay with me. I wish there was a different ratio of history to personal musing - more history less musing. Otherwise I would give Shadowlands a hearty endorsement.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to read this, but, alas, I was disappointed. Good things about Shadowlands: the Bundys’ armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is a fascinating story, and this book effectively captures the complexity of the situation. The author includes a great deal of historical context and some interesting socio-political commentaries (i.e. contrasting Bundy Revolution with the Black Lives Matter movement and Standing Rock). Although the author frequently shares ...more
I read this after listening to Season 1 of Oregon Public Radio's podcast "Bundyville", which provides background into the economic and religious argument behind the Bundys' standoff with the FBI in Nevada and Oregon. McCann's book picks up these threads, expanding out the socio-economic and political arguments behind these standoffs. Like McCann, I was surprised at how some of their legal arguments either made sense to me or aligned with what our Founding Fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson, ...more
MacKenzie Blake
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book feels like it will never end. It’s needlessly verbose. I thought I’d enjoy it since I lived in Oregon during the occupation, but only approximately 40% of the book is about the occupation and 60% about anything that could be considered even tangentially related. Furthermore, it bounces back and forth between philosophical and matter-of-fact story telling.

I do still give it a couple stars because it’s hilarious at points and those moments of levity are always surprising.

TR Gannon
Jul 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I can’t tell if the writer is trying to tell a story or impress is friends with his self indulgent prose. Once I read the term “providential certitude”, it was time to shut it down.

The story itself could be quite interesting, but the writer spends a paragraph describing what happened, and then two more on some tangent to take you completely off track. Once I realized I could stand the writer, I had no desire to follow him through the rest of the story.
Jo Stafford
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anthony McCann set off to Oregon to try and make sense of Ammon Bundy’s armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I read Shadowlands with the same goal. I got more than I bargained for.

McCann provides historical context for the occupation, pulling together seemingly disparate threads into a seamless narrative. Mormon theology, libertarianism, interpretations of the Constitution, federal land use, local history, and the strong and morally undeniable Paiute claims to the area share
To my mind there are three ways of reading. For information, for experience or for both. I read a number of goodreads reviews after finishing this book and found a bunch of people from category one complaining about the wandering nature of the author's writing. To them I say, what did you expect of a poet in his first non poetry work?

I think this book largely falls into the third category. It's loaded with information about the occupation and it's fall out. First hand accounts abound and that
Dec 28, 2019 marked it as to-read
Literary Hub, December 5, 2019

"In January 2016, Ammon Bundy stood in front of a crowd of heavily armed American “patriots” in Burns, Oregon and proposed an insurrection. Specifically, Bundy—son of Nevada rancher Cliven, infamous for his 2014 grazing rights standoff with federal authorities—was calling for an occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The story that follows—deftly told by poet-turned-reporter Anthony McCann in Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff is older
Kasey Lawson
“No matter how you broke it down, small ranchers depended on public land; without it they’d be finished. It was federal power—for all its flaws—that had helped keep that land available up till now for use by the ranchers whose plight the occupation had made its central cause. The Bundyites, pumped up on the energy of their messianic commune, were advocating for policies that would in all likelihood bring an economic end to the picturesque lives of cowboy freedom they idealized. Along the way, if ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book, library
McCann paints a detailed picture of the occupation of federal property in Oregon in 2016. He gets to know the occupiers and their motivations. He exposes the many tensions in their views and inherent in our nation and Constitution. The book is by turns hopeless and hopeful. Interestingly, this event happened during the election year and Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, OR where the trial took place. Quite a combination of the many manifestations of America.

The occupiers, perhaps
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the Trump era book I've been waiting for. It's the one that looks the crazy in the face and calls it crazy somehow with compassion and a certain almost beauty. McCann is a poet and his writing is beautiful - detailed, but taking moments to step back and sum it all up in a way that few other journalists can. It broke my heart, that this is what we've come to. Such absurdity, such distance from the people right next to us. So much pain and such a desperate need to belong. I think we're all ...more
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 rounded up. This book effectively introduces us not only to the trials and tribulations of the players in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge--the occupiers, the people of Burns, the Paiute and the journalists--but also the history of the Great Basin desert, the Black Lives matter movement in Portland, the parallel standoff in Standing Rock, Constitutional history and much more. A dense 400 pages which you will not want to skim.
David Schwartz
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
The Bundy story raises many interesting and, indeed, important issues regarding personal sovereignty, the constitution and the proper role of the federal government and federal power. The author does a good job of illustrating the absurdity of many of the Bundyite positions, albeit both intentionally and unintentionally.

Interesting read but suffers from the lack of a good brutal editor as there's sooooo much in the book that I thought was a distraction from its main purpose.
Bill Feldman
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What I loved about this book was that it payed out the myths behind the ‘militia’ Ideology and how absurd their arguments really are. It did it, as strange as it may sound, in a respectful way. It did not disrespect individuals but it did challenge their ideas. You know this is true not just from reading but from the acceptance that the ‘Ammonites’ and their opponents showed the author. I learned a lot!
Duncan McCurdie
I really like it at first and then it became more and more about the author's thoughts and reactions to the unfolding action and its consequences. That may have been ok or even interesting if I knew who the author was or he had insightful or expert critiques of the actions but sadly no. I decided to give up when there was lengthy descriptions of youtube videos that are still up on youtube. Not recommended even for people interested in contemporary political/social discourse.
Charles Bookman
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Where is the line between protest and conspiracy? A poet tells the story of the Bundy family’s “American revolution” in Nevada and on the Malheur Refuge in eastern Oregon. This important and timely book about the changing relationship between the individual and the government deserves to be read and discussed widely. Read more at .
Brian Muldoon
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike many I found it difficult to sympathize with the protagonists. I have seen encroaching development on all sides of National lands and thank God someone does not permit sewer and water extensions. Leasing public lands without citizen approval is wrong. This would not occur under Sanders.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't finish. I was 100 pages in and it just moves too slow with too many unimportant details. I think it's 450 some pages in all, if the rest of the books reads like the first 100 pages, the author could have told the story with 50% of the word count.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this better than Pogue's book, although there were some "wanderings" away from the story that I felt were distracting.
Melissa D'Haene
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful exploration of the Oregon Standoff and the type of disconnected, amnesiac politics of a certain white America.
Jay Dougherty
Nov 21, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
Big nope from me just based upon the introduction.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got some of what I was hoping for from this book and a lot of what I really didn't. Didn't finish.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Enjoyed material on the standoff & trials. Lost interest during trips down the many rabbit holes.
rated it it was amazing
Aug 26, 2019
rated it liked it
Jan 21, 2020
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2019
Hunter Tolbert
rated it it was amazing
Sep 01, 2019
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Anthony McCann was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. He is the author of four collections of poetry including Thing Music (Wave Books, 2014). His book Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff (Bloomsbury, 2019) is a nonfiction prose work investigating the 2016 armed right-wing occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Anthony’s teaching, writing and research interests ...more
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