Kathleen Belew’s gripping study of white power ... is a breathtaking argument, one that treats foreign policy as the impetus for a movement that most people view through the lens of domestic racism ... It’s a stunning indictment of official culpability, and Belew constructs her case with forensic care. In doing so, she shows that, while racism is ever with us, policy choices ranging from local police strategies to the furthest reaches of foreign policy create the space for white power to flourish.
Meticulously researched and powerfully argued, Belew’s book isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home, with distressing implications for the United States in 2018 and beyond ... Bring the War Home is a grim and sobering read—and, for many, it may arrive as a much-needed and troubling revelation: The sheer size of white-power extremism since Vietnam is frightening ... The power of Belew’s book comes, in part, from the fact that it reveals a story about white-racist violence that we should all already know ... Now, in 2018, coming up on nearly two decades of an apparently endless War on Terror, and with white-power violence prominent in our headlines once again, forcing a more serious reckoning is imperative—and Belew’s vital intervention is a necessary step toward that end.
Belew does the hard work of...revealing how white supremacists built a coalition of rural survivalists, urban skinheads, and anti-Semitic Christian Identity believers. The unified white power movement coalesced around stories not of triumph but of defeat ... The white power movement created a culture in which, as Belew writes, 'a suburban California skinhead might bear Klan tattoos, read Nazi tracts, and attend meetings of a local Klan chapter, a National Socialist political party, the militant White Aryan Resistance—or all three' ... radical white extremism. Adding those three words to our political vocabulary would represent a small but important first step toward acknowledging that white supremacist violence emerges not from the disordered mind of a lone wolf but from a perceptible and ugly American movement.
Belew is particularly adept at tracing the myriad personal, spatial, temporal, and operational links that constitute an essentially decentralized movement. As she shows, local hate groups, safe havens like Elohim City, and sites of proselytizing and recruitment such as gun shows are all subtly connected, forming a worldwide web that encompasses, of course, the web itself ... The book’s seventh and best chapter is a lucid exposition of the devotion paid to women as wives, mothers, and martyrs of the movement ... Yet Belew’s social analysis and historical frame are ultimately too narrow to explain the movement’s reach and persistence. Though she places the Vietnam War at the center of her story, she fails to spell out the ties between domestic white supremacy and US imperialism ... Then and now, the white power movement has had significant success in recruiting active-duty soldiers to its cause. Belew notes this paradox, but her inability to fully recognize its source speaks to the limitations of her history.
In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew, a history professor at the University of Chicago, offers a convincing case for the claim that the 'lone wolf' domestic terrorist, an all-too-familiar figure in the United States, is instead a product of a well-organized, decades-old, right-wing social movement that brings together 'a wide array of groups and activists previously at odds,' including Klansmen, skinheads, neo-Nazis, militiamen, Christian identitarians, tax protesters, and white separatists ... For those who wish to make sense of the enduring 'catastrophic ricochet of the Vietnam War' as well as recent events in places like Charlottesville, Belew's Bring the War Home is required reading.
Belew, an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago, delivers an engrossing and comprehensive history of the white power movement in America, highlighting its racism, antigovernment hostility, and terrorist tactics ... Belew presents a convincing case that white power rhetoric and activism continue to influence mainstream U.S. politics.
A key concept in understanding the overall movement, writes Belew, is the concept of 'leaderless resistance' ... The near invisibility of the movement leaders has led directly to the proliferation of the public’s belief in the phenomenon of lone wolves, which helps protect the movement from a coordinated takedown. Belew's impressive research effectively supports her hypothesis. A good launching point for even further intensive study.