Review by Booklist Review
The propensity for violence among right-wing extremists in the U.S. did not originate at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. It has roots much deeper than April 19, 1995, the grim day when Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people and injured many more. Toobin (American Heiress, 2016) delineates the connections between the two events. McVeigh was radicalized by many of the same ideas that radicalize extremists today through different mediums, magazines and talk radio then, social media and podcasts now. Toobin presents a comprehensive biography of McVeigh that covers his troubled childhood, military service, obsession with firearms, and the crime spree undertaken with Terry Nichols that led up to the bombing. Toobin also comprehensively examines the trials of the two men and McVeigh's execution and subsequent "martyrdom." Toobin gathered insider facts from a trove of documents donated by the defense lawyers to weave together this hard-hitting narrative. Given the continued threats of violence and other actions against officials and democracy itself, Homegrown is a must read.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Toobin (True Crimes and Misdemeanors) delivers an eye-opening study of Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Drawing on the defense team's internal records, interviews with McVeigh's family members, and other primary sources, Toobin recounts how McVeigh became obsessed with guns when he was young; grew fixated on the white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries, whose protagonist bombs an FBI building; and joined the Army in 1988, meeting his future coconspirator Terry Nichols on the first day of basic training. After serving in the First Gulf War, McVeigh was largely aimless upon his return stateside. Angered by the federal government's handling of the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff, the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., and Bill Clinton's signing of the 1994 assault weapons ban, McVeigh and Nichols believed the government had declared war on gun owners and planned to strike back, assembling the materials to make a bomb that killed more than 160 lives, including 15 children. Toobin also delves into McVeigh's anti-tax convictions, veneration of the Declaration of Independence, and conspiracy thinking, building a persuasive case that the bombing was motivated by beliefs that have come to dominate right-wing politics. It's a tragic and edifying account of the road to domestic terrorism. (May)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A riveting account of the man behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the legacy of his actions, which reverberate today. Bestselling author Toobin describes Timothy McVeigh (1968-2001) as "the most thoroughly scrutinized criminal in American history." Taking advantage of interviews, tapes, and correspondence that run to more than 1 million pages, the author scours his subject's early life to create a portrait of a somewhat troubled but hardly extraordinary upbringing. He showed interest in firearms from an early age. He joined the National Rifle Association as a teenager and faithfully read its official magazine along with many right-wing publications that shared his disdain for the federal government. After several long-forgotten mass shootings, in 1994 the Senate passed a bill outlawing assault weapons, enraging gun supporters, including McVeigh. Toobin concludes that this launched him "on a full-time mission to go on the offensive against the Federal government," and he provides an exhaustive but fascinating chronicle of a year when McVeigh--assisted by several like-minded but undependable friends--scrabbled for money, chose his target, and, following instructions in right-wing literature, assembled his bomb. Having neglected to plan his escape, he was quickly arrested, and Toobin delivers an equally gripping account of the prosecution, defense, trial, media coverage, and five years of appeals before his execution. McVeigh freely admitted planting the bomb, never expressed remorse for 168 deaths (including the children at the building's day care center), and never stopped proclaiming that he was striking a blow for freedom. Few readers will doubt that he was a fanatic but, sadly, not a loner. During his lifetime, he moved among a dangerous fringe of gun lovers, government haters, and White supremacists. Since then, these groups have grown steadily more popular and entered the mainstream. Many serve in Congress and state legislatures; one, Toobin adds, became president. Consequently, McVeigh's story is "not just a glimpse of the past but also a warning about the future." An authoritative, disheartening, depressingly relevant page-turner. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.