The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society

By Ann Larabee | Go to book overview

5
Monkeywrenching

In the late 1990s, the Vail Ski Resort expanded into a remote bowl filled with coniferous trees that had historically protected the endangered Canada lynx, a cat that ranged widely in pursuit of the snowshoe hare in an ancient relationship of hunter and prey. Biologists were reintroducing the shy lynx into the area after it had apparently disappeared in the 1970s, the victim of traps, roads, and destruction of its high-country habitat. Environmental activists around Vail cared for the lynx and its wild, roadless habitat and had battled the proposed expansion through legal means and direct action protests, such as blocking roads to the site. Tensions between environmentalists and developers were high in 1998 when a small group affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front set fire to three chair lifts, a restaurant, and the ski patrol headquarters, culminating in what the press reported as an “ecoterrorist” attack, resulting in $12 million in damage to property. This act was widely perceived on both sides as an ineffective means of protest with damaging consequences all around.

As the hunt was on for the arsonists, in the nearby Breckenridge ski resort, the local police were attempting to link some instances of vandalism to the attack in Vail. The director of the Summit County Library, Joyce Dierauer, was surprised to receive a court order from the Breckenridge police, demanding that she turn over a list of anyone who had checked out Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, a comic novel published more than twenty years earlier about four antidevelopment radicals who camp, get high, raft, and vandalize around the Glen Canyon region, enthusiastically pulling up surveying stakes, damaging construction equipment, and eventually blowing up a bridge. The police could only ask for patrons who currently had the book because the library kept no back history of checkouts. A complete list of all patrons who had ever borrowed the book, Dierauer remembers, “was probably half the County.”1 Dierauer never found out why the book was of such interest to the police or whether it provided them any useful evidence. It was not clear why curling up with a popular novel would have transformed many patrons of the Summit County Library into ecoterror suspects, yet The Monkey Wrench Gang, more than twenty years a midlist

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The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Science of Revolutionary Warfare 15
  • 2 - Sabotage 36
  • 3 - The Anarchist Cookbook 64
  • 4 - Hitmen 90
  • 5 - Monkeywrenching 108
  • 6 - Ka Fucking Boom 131
  • 7 - Vast Libraries of Jihad and Revolution 152
  • 8 - Weapons of Mass Destruction 171
  • Conclusion 185
  • Notes 191
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 239
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