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A blog exploring the intersection of dystopian fiction and radical politics


Sunday, September 18, 2016
 

The Spook Who Sat by the Door


One of the more interesting questions raised in my new paper, The Turner Legacy, is whether neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce was inspired to write his infamous racist dystopian novel, The Turner Diaries, at least in part, by a black nationalist novel and movie.

The Spook Who Sat by the Door, by Sam Greenlee, bears more than a passing similarity to The Turner Diaries. Both books describe a racially motivated guerrilla insurgency rising up in the United States, and both books include an element of practical advice in how to make that happen. The blueprints for revolution presented in each book are very similar.

Greenlee’s book is not as clearly documented to have inspired violent actors, but that prospect raised alarms with law enforcement. For a time, The Spook Who Sat by the Door was reputedly required reading for FBI trainees.

William Pierce was directly inspired by The John Franklin Letters, but he began writing The Turner Diaries soon after the film adaptation of The Spook Who Sat by the Door was pulled from movie theaters amidst a national controversy. Although Franklin uses a similar narrative conceit (the "found document" format), Turner is in many ways more similar to The Spook Who Sat by the Door in terms of its action-packed pace and high level of violence, although Turner ups the ante to a genocidal and apocalyptic scale.

For more on the relationship between The Spook Who Sat by the Door and The Turner Diaries, check out The Turner Legacy, my new research paper for the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism -- The Hague. And click here for a list of related articles and posts on this site.



     



THE TURNER LEGACY

 
The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist dystopian novel by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, has inspired more than 200 murders since its publication in 1978, including the single deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.

The book is arguably the most important single work of white nationalist propaganda in the English language, but it is not a singular artifact. The Turner Diaries is part of a genre of racist dystopian propaganda dating back to the U.S. Civil War. A new paper from J.M. Berger documents the books that directly and indirectly inspired Turner and examine the extensive violence that the novel has inspired.


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J.M. Berger is an author, consultant and analyst studying extremism. He is an associate fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism -- The Hague and a fellow with George Washington University's Program on Extremism. For more about Berger, click here.


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