"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 Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

Robert Darnton

What causes revolutions? Is it a significant corpus of classic philosophical texts held in reverence centuries later? Apparently such texts barely caused a ripple in the book trade in pre-revolutionary France. Employing careful methodology, Darnton discovers that the French reading class of this period were more often than not reading books which fell under the broad categories of either philosophical pornography, utopian fantasy, or political slander. In discussing his reasons for what some may consider “sheer antiquarianism,” Darnton explains “[T]hat the history of books as a new discipline within the ‘human sciences’ makes it possible to gain a broader view of literature and of cultural history in general. By discovering what books reached readers throughout an entire society and (at least to a certain extent) how readers made sense of them, one can study literature as part of a general cultural system.” Detailed tables and maps detailing the book trade and communication networks in pre-revolutionary France, as well as reproductions of illustrations from representative texts and substantial extracts from three such works are presented. JAT

Publisher: Norton
Paperback: 440 pages

From “Superman” to Man

J.A. Rogers

This is a cleverly written story about a well-educated porter named Dixon and his interactions with various passengers, covering everything from crackers to self-hating educated blacks. But the story is a only a backdrop for Rogers’ own historical research and philosophy:
“‘Didn’t you say you did not believe in the equality of the races?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Then why?’
‘Because as you said, sir, it is impossible.’
‘Why? Why?’
‘Because there is but one race—the Human Race.’” SC

Publisher: Rogers
Hardback: 132 pages

From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover

Athan Theoharis

Hoover had a file on anyone who was anyone. Hoover loved files. Hoover loved dirt… just like the vaccum cleaner which bears his name. After reading Secret Files you will readily see that the most startling secret kept from the public was Hoover’s own obsessions with sex, filth, race and orthodoxy:
“Informal Memo: In April, 1952, the New York Office received confidential information from a detective of the New York District Attorney’s Office to the effect that Adlai Stevenson and David B. Owen, President, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, were two officials in Illinois who caused a great deal of trouble to law-enforcement officers. The detective had gone to Peoria to bring back basketball players who had been indicted in New York. The basketball players told the detective that the two best-known homosexuals in Illinois were Owen and Stevenson. According to the report, Stevenson was ‘Adeline.’” JB

Publisher: Dee
Paperback: 377 pages

From Vietnam to Hell: Interviews With Victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Shirley Dicks

“For many Americans the Vietnam War is over and long forgotten, but for thousands of veterans, they still live the horror of this war. In flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms, they relive the time they spent in the jungle. Some turn to alcohol, others to drugs, to blot the inner agony that has no name but many faces. Some mistreat their wives and children; some withdraw from society altogether.
“This book tells the stories of some of these Vietnam veterans who have been to hell and back, and the wives who stood by their men. The stories are heartbreaking and meant to inform people about post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of these men are on death row. They were taught to kill women and children; they were taught that life wasn’t important; then they were never debriefed once back home. One day they were in the jungles of Vietnam; the next they were back in the States.”

Publisher: McFarland
Paperback: 144 pages

The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, circa A.D. 1000-1500

Kirsten A. Seaver

There is no doubt that sometime early in the 11th century medieval Norse sailors ventured west and south from settlements in Greenland searching for lumber and fur on the North American continent. Excavations 30 years ago in northern Newfoundland proved that the site found at L’Anse aux Meadows was Norse, and that it could be reliably dated to approximately A.D. 1000.
This book establishes the latest archeological evidence for Norse habitation of the New World; describes the nature of North Atlantic commerce in both commodities and ideas, discusses the role of the Catholic church at the farthest reaches of European settlement; charts relations between Norse settlers and indigenous people; and chronicles the often strained political relations between colonists and their European home governments. Finally, there are some new ideas about what became of these people when large-scale European exploration began to bypass the northern settlements in the 15th century. JTW

Publisher: Stanford University
Hardback: 428 pages

Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Drop Out Culture

Ron Sakolsky and James Koehline

Gone to Croatan follows the nearly submerged traces of those who took the term “Land of the Free” at face value. This compilation of essays (plus collages, etc.) from Autonomedia such as “Anarchy in the American Revolution,” “Caliban’s Masque: Spiritual Anarchy and the Wild Man in Colonial America,” and “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, and the Atlantic Working Class in the Eighteenth Century” spasmodically reveals the outline of another America—not the one methodically constructed by steely-eyed homesteaders and take-no-prisoners robber barons—but a tripped-out, freer American history that they would never want you to know about in high school. The collection takes its title from the lost colony of Roanoke, Va. which disappeared entirely, leaving only the cryptic message “Gone to Croatan” carved on a tree, referring to a nearby Indian tribe in the Great Dismal Swamp. As Peter Lamborn Wilson describes the episode, “European vagabonds transmuted themselves into Noble Savages, said goodbye to Occult Imperialism and the miseries of civilization, and took to the forest.”
An important segment of Gone to Croatan deals with the obscure and ill-fated Ben Ishmael, a multiracial nomadic Muslim tribe who ventured out of the Kentucky hills and set up the first permanent settlement in what is now Indianapolis. The determined extermination and forced sterilization campaign against this steadfastly communal and anarchistic group by the “Progressives” of their day led to the world’s first eugenics laws in the state of Indiana, directly inspiring the Nazi legal codes of the ‘30s and ‘40s. The Ben Ishmael are also linked to the murky origins of the Nation of Islam in the northern Midwestern cities of Detroit and Chicago.
While at times bogged down into the kind of academic term-paper navel-gazing which generates phrases like “to (re)write ‘Louis Riel’ into a liminal textual space” and stock lefty anti-Columbus posing, Gone to Croatan is generally filled with startlingly vibrant historical detail. From the bacchanalian “Revels of New Canaan” of Mayday 1627 that freaked out the totalitarian Puritan sectarians, to the 18th century “Whiteboy Outrages” in Ireland led by such rad rebel captains as “Slasher” and “Madcap Setfire,” Gone to Croatan is the suppressed history of individualist anarchists in early colonial times, utopian communal experiments, escaped slave and Indian alliances, marauding “land pirates” and politicized trans-Atlantic waterfront “mobs.” SS

Publisher: AK
Paperback: 384 pages

Guerrilla Prince: The Untold Story of Fidel Castro

Georgie Anne Geyer

It was Ed Sullivan who once presented Castro to his American audience as the “George Washington of Cuba.” This book almost echoes that refrain, along with such tidbits as the following lyrics sung to “Jingle Bells” in Cuba:
With Fidel, with Fidel
Always with Fidel
Eating corn or malange
Always with Fidel
Whether this constant injesting of corn or malange has in any way contributed to Castro’s undoubted charisma is beside the point, which is that while maligned in the United States, Castro has held on to the reigns of power in his native country as Franco did in Spain. The author relates with startling clarity and many interesting historical sidelights how Castro has confounded his adversaries over and over again. Adversaries like Luis Somoza, who remarked before the Bay of Pigs expedition: “Bring me a couple of hairs from Castro’s beard.” JB

Publisher: Andrews and McMeel
Paperback: 458 pages

Gun Control: Gateway to Tyranny

Jay Simkin and Aaron Zelman

Original German text and translation, with an analysis that shows U.S. Gun Control laws have Nazi roots. Just when you thought you had heard everything… Here are the original Reichsgesetzblaetter, or Law Codes from 1932. (The Nazis did not ascend to power until 1933.) The authors heap text upon text in their attempts to persuade the reader. As a final argument, they print Sarah Brady’s picture right next to Adolf Hitler’s. Sure to be a tie breaker at any debating group. JB

Publisher: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Paperback: 147 pages

Harlem at War: The Black Experience in World War II

Nat Brandt

“A vivid re-creation of the desolation of black communities during World War II examining the nationwide conditions that led up to the Harlem riots of 1943.”

Publisher: Syracuse University
Hardback: 277 pages

Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed

Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt

Who else but Morris Dees would be worthy enough of writing the preface to this book, which analyzes scores of hate crimes throughout America. This book is packed with every conceivable tidbit of rancor imaginable. For instance, a quote from Louis Farrakhan: “Listen Jews, this little black boy is your last chance because the Scriptures charge you with killing the prophets of God… You cannot say ‘Never again’ to God, because when he puts you in the oven, ‘Never again’ don’t mean a thing.” Or how about the facts behind the “Temple of Love” in Miami? Their charismatic leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh (God, Son of God, in Hebrew) preached that all whites were “serpents” and “demons.” As part of the initiation ceremony for joining the temple, devotees had to murder a “white devil.” But several victims were blacks who somehow challenged Yahweh’s commandments. In his sermons Yahweh told his followers, “All hypocrites must die.” Strange that he saw no irony in that directive. JB

Publisher: Plenum
Hardback: 287 pages