Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review of " American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing" by Lou Michel

I think "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing" by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck is an important book for Americans to read. It is very unbiased and straight-forward, and it helps explain just what happened to lead to the greatest domestic terrorism incident in our history. I think it will help the nation heal. As others have stated, it won't leave you with a feeling that McVeigh was a psychopath. That's the most disturbing part of the the entire book. He wasn't.

The book follows McVeigh's life all the way from his birth and innocuous childhood, through his military career, and to the fateful day when he placed a truck bomb outside the Oklahoma City Federal Building and murdered hundreds of people. It's an interesting journey. Following a regular guy who went way off the tracks and did such a horrible thing from beginning to finish is...sobering. I found the information about how he planned the bomb with Nichols the most interesting. It's hard to believe a regular guy could sit in his friend's house and plan it that way, but it makes sense.

I've recommended this book to friends, and they often recoil. "I don't want to read about that freak." I think people should read about that "freak" because there's no other way to begin the healing. Knowing what happened is the first step.

This book was constructed through interviews with McVeigh on death row and interviews with many other people involved who knew McVeigh. It's probably as close as we'll ever get to understanding what caused him to do what he did. It is well written. Although it will make you cringe and recoil at points because of the drastic nature of the events, I think it's an important book.

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