The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out—with military precision—an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Returning to an America ripped apart by a war that, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and giving birth to future recruits.
Belew’s disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.
Kathleen Belew is Assistant Professor of U.S. History and the College at the University of Chicago. She specializes in the recent history of the United States, examining the long aftermath of warfare. Belew has held postdoctoral fellowships from Northwestern University and Rutgers University. Her research has received the support of the Andrew W. Mellon and Jacob K. Javits Foundations, as well as Albert J. Beveridge and John F. Enders grants for research in Mexico and Nicaragua. She holds a doctoral degree in American Studies from Yale University (2011). She earned her undergraduate degree in the Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington in 2005, where she was named Dean’s Medalist in the Humanities. Belew is at work on two new projects, one focusing on processes of militarization in the domestic United States and the other on ideas of the apocalypse in American history and culture. Her award-winning teaching centers on the broad themes of race, gender, violence, identity, and the meaning of war.