Nixon’s War at Home: The FBI, Leftist Guerrillas, and the Origins of Counterterrorism (University of North Carolina Press, Justice, Power, and Politics series, September 2021) Order here.
During the presidency of Richard Nixon, homegrown leftist guerrilla groups like the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army carried out hundreds of attacks in the United States. The FBI had a long history of infiltrating activist groups, but this type of clandestine action posed a unique challenge. Drawing on thousands of pages of declassified FBI documents, Nixon’s War at Home shows how America’s war with domestic guerrillas prompted a host of new policing measures as the FBI revived illegal spy techniques previously used against communists in the name of fighting terrorism. These efforts did little to stop the guerrillas—instead, they led to a bureaucratic power struggle that fueled the Watergate Scandal and brought down Nixon. Yet despite their internal conflicts, FBI and White House officials developed preemptive surveillance practices that would inform U.S. counterterrorism strategies into the twenty-first century, entrenching mass surveillance as a cornerstone of the national security state.
Connecting the dots between political violence and “law and order” politics, this book reveals how counterterrorism emerged in the 1970s from violent conflicts—over racism, U.S. imperialism, and policing—that remain unresolved today.
Check out these reviews:
“An immersive and eye-opening account of how the Nixon administration’s fight against the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, and other insurgent groups gave rise to counterterrorism tactics and philosophies of ‘punitive policing’ that reshaped American politics. . . . Making excellent use of declassified FBI documents, Nixon’s White House tapes, and other sources, Chard shines a light on this turbulent era.” —Publishers Weekly
“Eye opening…. draws upon recently released FBI documents, archival sources, interviews, and other primary sources to reveal, ‘how institutional conflict over how to combat terrorism’ led to Watergate, reshaped how the government defined domestic protest and paved the way for the Patriot Act. ” —Northeast Popular & American Culture Association
“Chard’s book complicates historical orthodoxy, and leads to some puzzling questions about the use of violence…” —Nostalgia Trap
“A remarkable addition… The historian who puts aside romanticized views of the past will welcome Chard’s unwillingness to surrender to easy interpretations of his complex object of analysis…” —Society for U.S. Intellectual History
“Nixon’s War at Home contributes to the growing body of work on FBI history, provides fresh insights into Hoover and Nixon’s relationship and Watergate, and convincingly portrays how FBI domestic operations led to the definition and implementation of counterterrorism efforts.” —Critical Studies on Terrorism
“Nixon’s War at Home is a carefully researched exploration into not only the dynamics of power on the side of the government, but also how government officials interpreted and analyzed radical and revolutionary left-wing groups. Chard’s work provides a very important complement to … literature on left-wing radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s. —Reviews in American History
“Chard’s work sheds new light on the role counterintelligence operations played in the political drama of the Watergate scandal, while offering some of the most concrete and evidence-based assessments of the FBI’s notorious Counterintelligence Programs (COINTELPROs). … An important addition to the history of terrorism and counterterror.” — H-Net
Science for the People: Documents from America’s Movement of Radical Scientists, co-edited with Sigrid Schmalzer and Alyssa Botelho (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018)
Now available in a free, open-source digital edition!
For the first time, this book compiles original documents from Science for the People, the most important radical science movement in U.S. history. Between 1969 and 1989, Science for the People mobilized American scientists, teachers, and students to practice a socially and economically just science, rather than one that served militarism and corporate profits. Through research, writing, protest, and organizing, members sought to demystify scientific knowledge and embolden “the people” to take science and technology into their own hands. The movement’s numerous publications were crucial to the formation of science and technology studies, challenging mainstream understandings of science as “neutral” and instead showing it as inherently political. Its members, some at prominent universities, became models for politically engaged science and scholarship by using their knowledge to challenge, rather than uphold, the social, political, and economic status quo.
Highlighting Science for the People’s activism and intellectual interventions in a range of areas—including militarism, race, gender, medicine, agriculture, energy, and global affairs—this volume offers vital contributions to today’s debates on science, justice, democracy, sustainability, and political power.