"Fred Hampton dead body" by Chicago Police Department - from the documentary film The Murder of Fred Hampton Image © Public Domain via Commons

The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the U.S.

Ward Churchill and Jim Van der Wall

Fascinating dissection of the war against “subversives,” everything from assassinations to fomenting race wars.

Publisher: South End
Paperback: 468 pages


The Russian Idea

Nikolai Berdyaev

Written during World War II from exile in Paris by a disillusioned Marxist turned Christian anarchist philosopher, The Russian Idea is a revealing exploration of the continuity of utopianism in Russian history, literature and philosophy. Berdyaev’s discussion includes Moscow as the “Third Rome”; the rise of the Russian intelligentsia; the metaphysical theme in Russian literature; nationalism and Slav messianism; the anarchist element in Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Slavophilism; the philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov; socialism and nihilism; Russians and the Apocalypse; and Communism as a distortion of the Russian messianic idea. SS

Publisher: Lindisfarne
Paperback: 287 pages

The Satanizing of the Jews

Joel Carmichael

The author traces the “evolution” of anti-semitism from the earliest contacts of Jews and non-Jews in the Levant, up through the Roman-Jewish War, the Diaspora in Europe and finally, of course, Nazi Europe and the founding of the state of Israel. While acknowledging, however briefly, the rise of biological-racial theories in the 19th century as immediate precursors of Nazism (notably Gobineau’s On the Inequality of Races), the author’s central thesis, “mystical” anti-semitism, refers to the codified, theological condemnation of the Jews as contained in the founding tenets of Catholic Church doctrine. In a nutshell: “Christ-killer.” For this charge all other churchly condemnations flowed forth: that Jews constituted “a limb of Satan,” a people damned by God, etc., etc.
While the author devotes many pages to the intricate details of such “bulls” before, during and after the Middle Ages (beginning with the, ahem, rather harsh statements of church Father John Chrysostom: “breed of vipers… demons… haters of God” and ending with the maniacal spleen of Martin Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies), it becomes apparent that most of this flailing about, at least during the first millennium, was indulged in by the churchmen themselves, rather than their followers. The peasant on the street kept his dislike to himself up to the First Crusade, in 1096. Lots of ugliness followed over the next four centuries: mob violence and massacres that would find their echoes centuries later in the “spontaneous pogroms” directed against Jewish civilians all across Europe, at the very moment the Nazi government was killing them on a gigantic scale. After reading this book one can better understand the historical-cultural backdrop against which a 20th-century politician—Adolf Hitler—could make this jaw-dropping pronouncement (in Mein Kampf): “By fighting the Jews, I am doing the work of the Lord.” TM

Publisher: Fromm
Paperback: 224 pages

Screening History

Gore Vidal

Vidal believes that Americans of his generation either went to church or the movies for spiritual guidance. As a third-generation atheist from a well-placed Washington family, he knows from whence he speaks. Using as his point of departure the dual meanings of the title (to show it on a screen or to see it through a filter) this cranky little memoir of his first 20 years, mixing the impact of the movies with the realities of Washington politics with flights of longing and fancy, is pure vintage Vidal, doing what he does best. Much of this material was delivered originally in lecture form and is by turns caustic, witty, insightful and meandering, and consistently uncategorizable. It is a discourse on a period of American history that by its very structure proves how subjective the concept of history is. SA

Publisher: Harvard University
Paperback: 97 pages

Secret and Suppressed: Banned Ideas and Hidden History

Edited by Jim Keith

A selective overview of ultra “fringe” writings in essay form. Includes the typical “the CIA planted transistors in my brain” scenarios, Jonestown as mind-control experiment, Jim Morrison’s “double” and the Vatican library secrets, as well as Jim Jones’ last testament and Masonic ritual sex, sorcery, and assassination cabals. It’s a nice set of paranoia-inducing parables. MW

Publisher: Feral House
Paperback: 309 pages

Secret Societies and Subversive Movements

Black Mask Group

“Blown minds of screaming-singing-beaded-stoned-armed-feathered future-people are only the sparks of a revolutionary explosion and evolutionary planetary regeneration. Neon nirvanas finally overload their circuits—Watts pulls out the plug and sets the country on its own inextinguishable electrical fire as we snake dance through our world trailed by a smokescreen of reefer.”—from the essay “Acid Armed Consciousness”
Mandatory reading for modern anarcho/artists, this collection of writings and manifestoes from the notorious ‘60s revolutionary group Black Mask (later to become the Motherfuckers) reveals what havoc can be wrought by cultural workers who take seriously the tenets of Berlin Dada circa 1918. From “Black Mask No. 1—Nov. 1966: On Monday, October 10 at 12:30 p.m. we will close the Museum of Modern Art. This symbolic action is taken at a time when America is on a path of total destruction and signals the opening of another front in the worldwide struggle against suppression. We seek a total revolution, cultural as well as social and political—LET THE STRUGGLE BEGIN.”
Of special interest is the section dealing with the clash between this group and hip capitalist Bill Graham, centered around his Fillmore East venue and its possible status as a cultural center for the East Village. A “free” concert for the MC5 brings out the Motherfuckers who, following what they perceive as a not very revolutionary show, proceed to rough up the group and call them “phonies” after they jump in a limo headed for Max’s Kansas City. The MC5 may have “kicked out the jams,” but it took the uncompromising Motherfuckers to kick out the MC5. AS

Publisher: A&B
Paperback: 140 pages

Secret Societies and Subversive Movements

Nesta H. Webster

A dense and tangled work on a topic, which by its very definition would seem difficult to document. If it happened before 1924, was committed to paper, and bears some tenuous link to the history of secret societies, it probably is referenced somewhere in this book. What’s more—it’s probably the fault of the Jews. Mostly polite and extremely well-researched, this volume nonetheless functions above all as a monumental testimony to the productive power of human paranoia. The 420-page volume descends occasionally into unreadable minutiae, as it chronicles not only the major occult and utopian entities (Gnostics, Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, Theosophists, Freemasons, and Illuminati) but also traces the intricate lineage of each, closely examining the theoretical disputes resulting in division and subdivision of even those movements quite small to begin with.
What keeps the book compelling, however, is the author’s slow progression from insinuation to full-blown rant. From the beginning the Kabbalah is frequently cited as a source of inspiration for a variety of “subversive” ideologies, and yet as the histories of the various movements unfold, it seems for many chapters that the Kabbalah may only be an ancient red herring, a minor influence on Grand Orient Freemasonry, the ultimate villain. But by the final chapter, “The Real Jewish Peril,” the blue-blooded paranoiac is out of the closet. Given the historical and public policy of exclusion practiced by the Freemasons against the Jews, Webster’s suggestion that a timeless Jewish conspiracy lies hidden behind Freemasonry has the appeal more of novelty than credibility. It’s the typical paranoiac punch line in which the least likely explanation proves itself by the rigor with which all evidence must have been removed.
More strange bedfellows enliven the book: A chillingly misinformed chapter on the burgeoning Pan-Germanism (circa 1924) ends with the conclusion (with Henry Ford) that Jewish money fueled the Prussian war industry. Adam Weishaupt, despite his public contempt toward the Jesuits, is supposed to have patterned the Illuminati after their organizational ideals. The Knights Templar, guardians of Christian pilgrims, were heathen secretly associated with the Islamic Assassins. The ascetic Jewish Essenes are linked with the orgiastic Gnostics sects. Occult illusionist roustabouts Cagliostro, Mesmer and Crowley draw comparisons with the founders of Hassidism. The list goes on… isometrics for the mind. RA

Publisher: A&B
Paperback: 420 pages


James Mason

The writings and rantings of James Mason, radical extremist Nazi and founder of the NSLF, featuring Mason’s three R’s: Resistance, Revolution and Rule. A compelling collection of essays from Mason’s newsletter of the same name, advocating death to all race traitors and the murder of a significant percentage of the population (blacks, Jews, Mexicans, etc.). Mason has also found a “true revolutionary” and ideological comrade in Charles Manson, a move that has stigmatized him as a wacko among other hard-core Nazi/white power circles. MW

Publisher: Storm
Paperback: 464 pages

Slavery in the Arab World

Murray Gordon

The slave trade in the Arab world antedated Mohammed and still exists in parts of Arab Africa today. This work presents the ideological underpinnings and the historical treatment of the slave in the Arab world. It also shows contrasts between slavery in the Arab world and in the Old South, and examines the factors that determined the status of slaves in the Islamic world. Sometimes these factors led to insurrections like the Baghdad Slave War (A.D. 880-894) and to the rise and fall of many Muslim kingdoms in Africa. That the relationship between the European powers and Muslim slave brokers led to an expansion of the slave trade is well-documented in this book. MET

Publisher: New Amsterdam
Paperback: 265 pages

Slavery: A World History

Milton Meltzer

“Slavery is not and has never been a ‘peculiar institution,’ but one that is deeply rooted in the history and economy of most countries. Although it has flourished in some periods and declined in others, human bondage for profit has never been eradicated completely.
“In Slavery: A World History Meltzer traces slavery from its origins in prehistoric hunting societies; through the boom in slave trading that reached its peak in the United States with a pre-Civil War slave population of 4 million; through the forced labor under the Nazi regime and Soviet gulags; and finally to its widespread practice in many countries today, such as the debt bondage that miners endure in Brazil or the prostitution that women are sold into in Thailand. In this detailed, compassionate account, readers will learn how slavery arose, what form it takes, what roles slaves have performed in their societies, what everyday existence is like for those enchained, and what can be done to end the degrading practice of slavery.”

Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 344 pages

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean

B.R. Burg

This book actually started out to be a way of offering history students a wider view of British expansion into the New World. It was almost by accident that the author noticed certain patterns in the settlement of the West Indies that caused him to address the “gay history” that became the focus of the finished book. Unlike America, where settlers from England came to begin whole new lives, the attitude toward the Caribbean Islands was to get in, make money and to get back to “civilization” in England. Women were less likely to be included in the patterns of what was considered to be a temporary situation.
The author begins the book with an overview of British attitudes towards homosexual behavior in the 17th century, paints a vivid picture of life in England at the time and especially the prospects of the less wealthy, and provides a brief history of the British Navy with special attention to whom they recruited and how they did it. We are treated to an exhaustive look at the Caribe Isles, the evolution of pirate communities in that part of the world and ultimately to the probability that homosexual behavior was business as usual in this context. An impressive chronological bibliography allows the reader to follow the author’s development of the various conclusions and theories. Of special interest to gay historians is the section on Matelotage, a legally recognized form of gay marriage that had its roots in indentured servitude. SA

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 215 pages