Malcolm Nance presents a compelling case in his new book, They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency. And it couldn’t be more timely, with the January 6th hearings currently ongoing. Nance is a former US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and regular media pundit.
This is Nance’s ninth book, and his others focus more on foreign terrorist activity. This time he turns the lens to domestic terror threats to the US. And learning that we have no laws—not even one—that address domestic terrorism is a shock to my system.
As the book begins, Nance focuses on the aspects of the Trump insurgency, especially their goals and methods. He calls this TITUS (Trump Insurgency in the United States.) And then he moves along to the history and current-day practices of militia-type organizations. He explains how they recruit and train new members, as well as how they communicate using social media and the Internet. Every paragraph is more chilling than the last.
Nance also spends an entire section of his book detailing the Q-Anon movement, from its beginning to the permutations along the way. He shows how it became enmeshed with the 2020 Presidential re-election campaign. And then he discusses how it changed America’s response and our collective experience with COVID-19.
His final section summarizes the combination of these points and, not surprisingly, assesses America as we know it to be in “mortal danger.” There’s very little hope in this book, but Nance explains why keeping our eyes open is vital to survival.
This is a one-sided book. Nance never tries to illustrate the “good guys on both sides” concept. He hits hard and repeatedly at the radicalization happening throughout our nation. But if your perspective already leans this way, you will find multiple cogent defenses of the need for action and the danger of complacency.
Nance provides me with the language and insight into the TITUS mindset. I’ll never see news reports, legislative actions, or even pop culture quite the same way. The new series from Amazon Prime called The Terminal List is an example. We spent several nights watching during the time I read Nance’s book. In the book, he discusses the Lone Wolf as a domestic terrorist. This person plans and executes a dramatic terror event on their own. And in one sense, the hero/antihero of The Terminal List is just that.
The character also illustrates another concept from Nance and domestic terrorism or insurgency. That’s the idea of a sovereign citizen, a single person or family who refuses to acknowledge the authority of the military or government. Interestingly, these folks are sometimes veterans or even actively serving. In The Terminal List, the main character becomes a vigilante, out to make people pay for ways he was wronged. And while we want to cheer for the strong man left standing, stories like this reinforce dangerous concepts.
I admit it. Following the many points Nance makes fills me with more dread than hope for our country’s future. But if you prefer to live with eyes wide open, then this is a must-read book about the making of current-day political history.
Pair with Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, another media pundit and scholar. The international perspective and longer historical lens is equally chilling.
Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. They Want to Kill Americans debuts on July 12, 2022.
Barbara – this is a *great* and TIMELY review. Thank you!
Thanks Jay! I expect to see Nance all over the media this week since his book’s publication coincides with the same topic in the Jan 6 Hearings. Should be interesting to hear what he has to say!
I think (hope) many citizens, liberal and centrist, believe that these extreme Right people are indeed dismantling our government and society. But I think most Left/Centrists think they (on Left) will be viewed as wacky and paranoid and will not lower themselves to such low tactics. So the Left keeps letting the Right get stronger, keeps letting the Right repeat lies so often that people believe it. The Right is Wrong. Right fights dirty so the Left has to fight dirty, too. Democrats need to take the gloves off and Fight The Right.
Hi Butch – Thanks for visiting, reading my review, and commenting. I definitely agree that we are past Kumbayah moments in this country. Hoping for bipartisan times feels just as delusional as the ideas coming from the Radical Right.
Amen to you both. This is a matter of the survival of our nation as we want it to be.
Indeed it is.
My wife and I were former Republicans until the rise of Trump. Since the death of her “Fox watching parents” we began to see the truth about “just get higher ratings” approach at Fox. We came from the religious right and left our friends to bask in the world of “GEOTUS” (God Emperor of the United States) as Nance accurately changes the acronym from POTUS. Nance describes the militias as a reason the United States is in danger but does not approach in depth the Christian right and how they are locked in on the idea that Trump is sent from God.
I doubt that any Trump worshiper will read past the foreword. It is up to all readers of this book to be able to defend what Nance imparts in this great informative book.
Hi Gerald – Thanks for reading and commenting here. I agree that this book will mostly reach people who aren’t “true believers.” But I still believe a few of us might use Nance’s arguments to turn a person or two away from the mindset. If you’re looking for a similar book focusing on the Christian right, try The Power Worshipers by Katherine Stewart. I read and reviewed it a few years ago—it’s excellent. https://thebibliophage.com/book-review-katherine-stewart-power-worshippers/