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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion from Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond
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Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion from Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  408 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Going Postal examines the phenomenon of rage murder that took America by storm in the early 1980's and has since grown yearly in body counts and symbolic value. By looking at massacres in schools and offices as post-industrial rebellions, Mark Ames is able to juxtapose the historical place of rage in America with the social climate after Reaganomics began to effect worker' ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published October 17th 2005 by Soft Skull Press
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Paul Bryant
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it

Edited with a heavy heart, 16 December 2012


Mark Ames' argument : rage murders – workplace and school massacres – started in the 1980s and now there are a LOT of them. Americans blame this that and the other thing for all this hideous violence but they frantically avoid looking at the real culprit because to do so would mean they would have to face some harsh unacceptable political truths : it’s the conditions of life in workplaces and in schools, the toxic pressures of American middle-class lif
Ryan Mishap
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
The author has two explanations for workplace shootings. The first is that since Ronald Reagan took office, corporations have broken their mutually beneficial compact with workers. In their rapaciousness, they have over-worked, downsized, and driven modern workers half-crazy—all with government help in the form of deregulation, neoliberal economic policy, and anti-union measures. Ames straight out blames Reagan for the rise of workplace shootings. People with no options and no hope lash out…whic ...more
Zac Weiss
Nov 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
I definitely went through some form of anagnoresis when I read this book. The author makes a few very solid points near the beginning of the book, which have definitely changed the way I see the world today. Slavery did not end due to moral outrage, but because it wasn't economically viable anymore; assembly line work is much more productive. interesting, ok, although they obviously service completely different markets. Sure, workplace and school rampages are almost always committed by crazy peo ...more
Heather V  ~The Other Heather~
I don't even know where to start with this book. It took me half a year to read, and not just because I've been having vision issues. This is one seriously dense read, and at times your eyes will probably glaze over because statistic after statistic gets kind of monotonous. But I have no choice but to give it three stars because Ames did incredibly extensive research about toxic workplaces and school environments, and he related some incidents that I'd not known about before. So...three stars it ...more
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: class-war
Someone did a disservice to this book, giving it a title and cover art that suggest something sensationalistic, if not totally exploitative of its subject matter. It will put some people off, and that's unfortunate, because it's not the case. Author Mark Ames approaches the subject intent on affirming his thesis, but his sympathy, and affinity, for working class America is obvious.

Reagan, Ames says, is responsible for a breathtaking transfer of wealth into the pockets of the few at the grave exp
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Ames's book is less a thesis than a screed: Modern capitalism is so mean and dehumanizing that it causes the people it crushes to lash out, whether at the work place or, societally, the school which is a microcosm of the empty capitalist world.

It's not convincing. Ames draws a parallel between modern scattered workplace and school violence and the similar violence during slavery. He maintains that in their times, both are frustrated wails against a paradigm so encompassing that true revolution i
Aaron Arnold
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
By an unfortunate coincidence, I ordered this book right before the 11/5 Fort Hood shooting tragedy, and after finishing it I was angry at how steadfastly unwilling the media (and much of society) are to ask the tough questions about why school and workplace shootings, which were almost completely unknown before the 1980s, have become such a grim and seemingly inevitable part of modern society. Mark Ames places the blame squarely on the new corporate culture of the Reagan years, where employees ...more
Sonja Hennessy
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
On page 29 Mark Ames writes the following-> " Domestic uprisings in this country are extremely rare. Nowhere is this more
painfully obvious than in slave uprisings. The number of documented slave rebellions in the United States, from the mid-1500s up through the end of the Civil War,number under a dozen."

This is questionable. According to Wikipedia(I know, wikipedia) there were about 250 slave uprisings in the United states. Herbert Aptheker, a historian credited as being the first to seriousl
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read

I picked this up because of the way it was cited in The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. If you are only going to read one of these two books, I'd tell you to read Utopia of Rules because I think it's a better book with a more complex argument. But this is also great linking the rhetoric, cultural milieu and style of slave rebellions, office shootings, and school shootings, basically arguing throughout that we tend to see these rebellions against an
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is a pretty awful book all around. The writing is unbelievably lousy, and it's so illogical it's almost self-parodying: the thesis is basically that workplace shootings are caused by Ronald Reagan, and the last chapter opens with this jaw-dropping sentence: “Rage as we know it today did not exist when Ronald Reagan took power in 1981.” (I'm selling my stocks of the Iliad as we speak!)

However, there is a glorious kernel of truth hidden like a diamond in this enormous haystack of ravings. It'
Dan Sharber
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
this book was very disturbing and very good. it is also very cynical and depressing and while i wanted to find fault with many of the conclusions i just couldn't do it. it all makes sense. there are a couple of things i would refine so to speak. mainly, he lays the entire blame for the radical restructuring of our society after the late 70's and early 80's directly at reagan's feet. while there is certainly truth to this, the rise of neoliberalism (and concomitant transfer of wealth upward, slas ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Definitely made me think more than I thought it would. Kind of obvious that certain things have declined since the late 1940s--1950s, which the author frequently cites as the halycon days for American workers.

And yeah we get the short end of the stick--least benefits, least vacation days, most dispensable in the first world--and I recognized a lot of the negative things that I see on daily basis in this book. The warning signs of whether a rage based murder could happen list in this book, my wo
Keith Chawgo
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Going Postal is an interesting read to begin with and then turns to waffle as the author states his facts, states them again, restates them and then if you haven't quite got it, states them all over again. After page 250 of this densely written book, you eyes start to glaze over and you find yourself skimming through the facts and figures and looking for the actual true crime sections which are where this book excels at.

Mark Ames, to his credit, has produced some alternative reasons for the work
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Kind of confused about how this differs with Dave Cullen's Columbine. Both paint very different pictures of the boys. I want to believe Cullen's version more just because he focused soley on Columbine, but then if Ames was completely wrong about it, what does that mean for the rest of his book? But aside from that, this was a very interesting and well written book. There were a few segments that went off in tangents that seemed to have little to do with anything, and clearly Ames really hates Re ...more
Richard Skellern
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An important and revelatory examination of rage murders and corporate culture.
Amar Pai
May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Compelling, full of scabrous rage, but at the moment I just don't have it in me to get through something this dark and polemical. Ames is not one to mince words & although some might question his specific thesis about the origins of workplace violence & modern day shootups at the office, I feel that he hits the nail on the head w/ his larger theme of America's tragic decline in the Reagan era. I can't stand this modern day revisionism that makes Reagan out to be some kind of nobel figure ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: splendiferous
"Office politics, personal relations, connections, petty malice, attendance at the company barbeque, hygiene, fashion, one's ability to smile and make it look sincere, a sense of humour (or what passes for a sense of humour in the office world), as well as sheer luck and circumstance- play in an employee's ability to advance up the company ladder". Add to this the cheerful slavishness, and you get the "neurotic, metrosexual office slave" (the cubicle serf who's such a workholic and doesn't need ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Two and a half stars, rounded to three. Not because of the argument but because of the writing. It was pretty heavy-handed and full of the author's exclamations.

I prefer my non-fiction to guide my thinking, rather than hammer the only possible conclusion over my head.
Nick Schau
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was refreshing to finally read a clear-eyed explanation of mass-shootings that attempts to tie the perpetrators together in an honest, straightforward framework. This book approaches something close to the truth that you somehow always suspected but could never find the words to articulate, a rarity in the nonfiction world.

I suppose I chose to read Going Postal because I was looking for a more sincere examination of workplace and school shootings than the same unsatisfactory and lazy explanat
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I gave this book 4 stars but I am not sure many would agree with me. Going into this book I took it as being about rampage killings, which in a big sense it was. However, the author tended to ramble a lot on other subjects that in his mind reverted back to the core of why work place and schoolyard shootings happen. He made very good points in many areas but he tended to go on and on making you wonder if you were reading a book about Slavery, The Revolution, Reaganomics..... Had the subjects that ...more
Gregory Klages
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: contract workers, contract academics
This book resonated with me. As it is a book about workplace shootings, including secondary and post-secondary schools, I am hesitant to admit this. Nonetheless, I expect that anyone who has experienced a less than satisfactory workplace, marked by precarious employment, short-term contracts, pressure to sacrifice quality to quantity and speed, etc., has considered some kind of rage reaction.

That a society with fairly easy access to guns has experienced workplace shootings with a fundamental ch
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
In Going Postal, Mark Ames presents a thesis so grim, so unacceptable in polite conversation that it's hard to even talk about without endless backpedaling and qualifications: that stress, the decline of the middle class, the decay of the American Dream -- essentially the entire character of our post-Reagan culture -- is directly responsible for rage killings and spree shootings in the workplace and school, phenomena that were almost totally unknown decades ago.

It sounds crass and hyperbolic, bu
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
The premise: why all the 'spree killings?' Why the stresses, brutalities, humiliations of corporate work regimes under neoliberalism, naturally! Not to deny the rage, but upon reading this book one is led up a blind alley: that the knot of forces provoking such extreme rage runs no deeper than neoliberalism, and are confined to its relatively recent arrival on the scene of human misery and suffering. Ummmm. The assertion, is just a bit too quick, I'm afraid. As other readers more savvy than I ha ...more
Casper Denck
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Going Postal is an intriguing book to read, by that I mean it is compelling, well written, and nonsensical in equal measure. It is at times extremely difficult to take seriously -take one of the book's central contentions by way of example: the slave trade is a very good analog of life of the average worker in Post-Reaganite America. Seriously?

Notwithstanding the bizarre and lengthy tangents on slave rebellions the book is a well documented and perceptive history and analysis of instances of "go
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: disaffected middle class blokes who need a reality check after reading Fight Club
An interesting and confrontational hypothesis that almost comes off.......... the workplace/ school spree shootings in the USA in the last 15 years is a result of not an anomaly of a gun toting psycho but is a blacklast against the changes in the workplace and society as a result of Reaganomics (economic rationalism).

To a point the argument works but the book misses something to really clinch the argument, perhaps a more indepth dissection of a case would have worked. Some section seem to be es
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
Starts with an intriguing and promising premise - that economic and business policies begun in the Reagan era have contributed to the rise of workplace shootings - but then devolves into rants about suburbia and tenuous comparisons of white middle class office workers to slaves waging righteous rebellion. Ames takes too many pains to validate the motivations of rage killers, to the point where the author comes off as unsympathetic to many likely innocent victims and even people who sought to pre ...more
Jun 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is itself a little like a murder or accident scene - after a while, you want to look away, but just can't. Ames details the history of rage murders in America, a fairly recent phenomenon, focusing on schools and workplaces specifically, and makes a controversial comparison between rage murders and slave rebellions in the 1700s and 1800s. He writes a detailed account of the ways in which our workplaces have become especially draconian and oppressive, mostly as a result of an elimination ...more
Going Postal examines the phenomenon of rage murder that took America by storm in the early 1980's and has since grown yearly in body counts and symbolic value. By looking at massacres in schools and offices as post-industrial rebellions, Mark Ames is able to juxtapose the historical place of rage in America with the social climate after Reaganomics began to effect worker's paychecks. But why high schools? Why post offices? Mark Ames examines the most fascinating and unexpected cases, crafting a ...more
Sarah Sammis
Oct 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was half expecting Going Postal to be a sensationalist history of the most violent of shootings in recent American history. Instead the book is a frank and curious investigation of the psychology behind these acts of violence.

What Mark Ames finds is that most people don't snap no matter how bad the situation is. An otherwise mentally stable human being won't rebel against a bad situation even if an act of rebellion would result in a better situation for himself and others. A mentally ill perso
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it
even though i had to read this for school, i'm counting it as a personal read this year because i choose what i wanted to read (this book) for my english assignment. while this book could be tedious at times and generally could be cut down by 100 pages, it was still interesting to see the dehumanizing elements in today's culture and how it has the ability to drive people towards rage murder. while it wasnt my favorite book (all the graphic violence was hard to stomach) i still enjoyed it because ...more
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