OnFebruary 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. Read more...
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OnFebruary 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre Tania.
The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing the Hearst family trying to secure Patty s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing Tania wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term Stockholm syndrome entered the lexicon.
The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secretdocuments, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors crusade.
Or did she?"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Toobin (The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson), a New Yorker staff writer and CNN senior legal analyst, provides another definitive and nuanced look at a notorious crime case—this time, the 1974 abduction of heiress Patty Hearst in San Francisco by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and its sensational aftermath. Two months into the kidnapping, in a tape released by the SLA, Hearst declared that she’d joined the group; two years later, she faced a federal trial for armed bank robbery. Toobin’s rigorous detective work is enhanced by his placement of the Hearst case in the context of its times, with the U.S. shaken by the continuing Watergate revelations as well as the devastating OAPEC oil embargo, and his expert critique of the work of both prosecution and defense in Hearst’s 1976 trial. His thorough research, careful parsing of all the evidence, and superior prose make the book read like a summertime thriller. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Aug.)