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

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  463 ratings  ·  67 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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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  463 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Start your review of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion from Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond
Paul Bryant
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime

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
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
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hadn't realized office work was this unpleasant(ly organized), or that it has been this bad for this long already. Pretty amazing, disconcerting and depressing to see how much systemic abuse you can get away with building into a system before people will snap. (Making it all that much more important to not to take people seriously when they claim some change or other to be sustainable, given how easily abuse can be hidden and kept out of public discourse. Which brings up the question of how to p ...more
Michael Kleen
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mass shootings have been in the news a lot lately, but they are certainly not new. Neither are the debates about what instigates them. In 2005, Mark Ames, an ex-pat and founder of the Moscow-based irreverent rag the Exile, published his controversial explanation in Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.

In Going Postal, Ames effectively compares modern day office shootings to the slave rebellions of yesteryear, and skewers the cultur
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
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'
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 seriously s
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
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
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, 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
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
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 figurehead or ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: violence
Q: What does it mean when you see a flag flying at half-mast outside of a post office?
A: They’re hiring.
—Contemporary American joke
Here we have a book about rage killings, where a person, or persons, go into a workplace or school and shoot it up, usually killing many people. There are a few controversial theories put forth which never occurred to me and are entirely plausible. The first one undoubtedly will anger many who accept the traditional view that these shooters snap, seemingly for no r
Larry Ggggggggggggggggggggggggg
The economic and cultural shifts brought about by the Reagan regime (not in the least the union-busting tactics that castrated the labor movements and outsourcing to line the pockets of the hyper rich) and the office rage murders that ensued as well as the connection of the high school world to the corporate and school shootings contextualized as consequences of a cutthroat academic environment/a culture of normalized abuse culture of bullying and abuse. At times the book seems to be apologistic ...more
Peter Schutz
very provocative thesis, but i think Ames is expressing an angst that a lot of americans (justly) feel. powerful stuff, especially the first 3/4 or so... needed a tie-in at the end to the workplace shootings and a more comprehensive conclusion that clarified what he was trying to say. but fuck, just great, great read
Michael Solomentsev
Aug 21, 2020 rated it liked it
A bit more scattershot than I would've hoped for. While the critique of post-Reagan corporate austerity is incisive, Ames' analysis of school shootings strikes me as a bit too simplistic. I'm not sure he's able to really present a unified theory of rage killings, at least not to the extent that he intends to. Also a bit repetitive. ...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.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
this isn't like masters of doom.. ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's one of those rare books that makes you feel like there are still humans left in the world who recognize and actually *care about* the injustices forced upon us all by capitalism ...more
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
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