SCPL Online NonFiction Book Club discussion

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
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American Heiress > The SLA

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SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
Hello all! I hope you are enjoying the book so far. Tonight, I would like to take a moment to pick your brain about the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).

What did you think about the SLA? How would you describe their goals and their actions? What did you think of Toobin’s portrayal of the group? What did you make of their decision to kidnap Hearst? Did you find you had any sympathy or compassion toward any of the group members?


Heidi Madden | 118 comments I think they’re crazy. All of them. To put it lightly LOL I have no sympathy or compassion toward any of them. Well, maybe a little because they got caught up in that mess but not much. I mean on some level they, including Hearst, did chose it. I don’t understand extremist organizations like that anyway. Maybe I’m too indoctrinated by capitalism but fighting for a violent revolution doesn’t seem like a good solution either.

I liked Toobin’s portrayal. I thought it was pretty fair and balanced. He explained as much as he could about what made them tick but also didn’t make excuses for them.

From their point of view their decision to kidnap Hearst seemed to make a lot of sense. It also looked like a pretty great decision when she joined them. Ultimately it turned out bad (aka most of them died) but I don’t know that that outcome was particularly surprising to any of them.


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SCPL (st_catharines_public_library) | 542 comments Mod
I agree, Heidi! It was very hard to have sympathy for any SLA members, considering how volatile and violent they were. As a librarian, I was especially appalled that "Mizmoon" spent most of her employment at the library doing research for the SLA's terror acts.

I also enjoyed Toobin's portrayal of the SLA. While it was definitely a fair assessment of their idiosyncracies, I also felt like he was a bit tongue-in-cheek about his portrayal as well. Their bumbling antics might almost be amusing if they weren't committing such atrocious crimes.

I suppose from their point of view, yes, it was a good decision to kidnap Hearst; however, it really is wild just how bungled everything became. I guess with a "leader" like DeFreeze and members so far out of touch with reality, it's no surprise that things ended the way they did!


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