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American Time Bomb


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Table of Contents

Author’s Note: Composites and Alterations of Fact
Prologue: The Stolen Giant
Part I: Chrysalis
1: A Weatherman Appears in My Living Room
2: The Columbia Gateway Drug
3: Hoover’s “Black Problem”
4: From Wall Street to Bleeker Street
5: “He Left You His Eyes”
6: Rogue
7: Judith Regan
Part II: The State Is Our Enemy
8: The Sonorous Baritone of William Kunstler
9: The Collegiate and The Collective
10: Bombers and Besties
11: Canadian Terrorists?
12: A Penitent Yippie Appears at Folk City
13:  Rat and the Masturbators
14: The FBI’s Bomb Expert
15: BOOM!
16: Children of the Revolution
Part III: Mother Right
17: …And Jane
18: An Explosion in Foley Square
19: Two Mothers Two Truths
20: It Was a Great Night for the Revolution
21: Rewards for the Wicked
22: Liz Fink’s Bag-o-Marbles Schtick
Part IV: White Man’s Rules
23: The Attica Brothers
24: Uprising
25: A Surprise Ally
26: Trouble at the Factory
27: “Their Throats Were Slashed.”
28: Kunstler and the Observers
29: Fink’s Bunker
30: September 13th 9:05 am
31: Three Truths That Tell a Lie
32: The Verdict
Epilogue: Beautiful Things
An Anatomy of the Laundry
Key Groups and Acronyms
Character Guide
Sources and Interview Subjects
Selected Bibliography

About the Author

Joshua Melville is the author of five books, including Confessions of a Record Producer and Million Dollar Mistakes, under the pseudonym Moses Avalon. His titles have become recommended reading in over fifty music business programs, including the music and entertainment law programs at UCLA, Loyola, NYU, Harvard, and Loyola Law Schools.He lives in Los Angeles, California.


"What does the fabled Sixties mean to the children of the enflamed radicals? The aptly named American Time Bomb is one tour de force answer. I couldn't put down this masterpiece of combined historical sleuthing and self-reflection." Mark Rudd, author of Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen

"With the imaginative powers of a novelist, the tenacity of an investigative reporter, and the seriousness-of-purpose of an historian, Joshua Melville has produced a remarkable double memoirfirst, the story of his dad, Sam Melville, murdered by an agent of the state at the age of thirty-seven during the notorious uprising at Attica prison, and, second, the pursuit of his father's legacy, and his own truth. All children must eventually learn to walk on their own, of course, to make their distinct and wobbly way through life, to sing their own songs and tell their own stories. . . . Melville has taken on that universal task with uncommon couragehis odyssey takes him through treacherous waters where he confronts a host of mythical monsters, resists a chorus of sirens, and overcomes substantial obstacles. In the end, Sam Melville got the historian he deservesthe dazzling son he called Jocko." Bill Ayers, author of Fugitive Days: Memoir of an Antiwar Activist

"Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. Genesis 22:7. American Time Bomb is Isaac's account. It differs dramatically from the official version." Ron Kuby

"Josh Melville makes a strong argument that the pen is mightier than the sword. As a son, longing to understand his father's death at Attica, his story is the stuff of grand opera and Greek tragedy. As detective and historian he has delivered a mesmerizing tale, insisting that America look at itself." David Rothenberg, founder of the Fortune Society

"What do you do when the father who abandoned you turns out to be a major domestic terrorist? In this devastating, visceral, and breathtaking memoir, Melville asks complicated questions unflinchingly. His story is at turns heartbreaking, infuriating, resonant, and difficult. It's one-of-a-kind book, and I couldn't put it down." Susan Jane Gilman, author of Donna Has Left the Building

" American Time Bomb is a vital read for this moment. When hundreds of state troopers entered the Attica State Correctional Facility back in 1971 with guns blazing, killing sixties' radical Sam Melville, his son's life was forever changed. Because state officials then denied any wrongdoing, as well as hid, 'lost,' and sealed all records related to their brutal retaking of that prison, Josh Melville had to spend literally decades trying to figure out exactly how his dad was murdered, and, increasingly important, how he had lived well before that awful day. American Time Bomb is a most beautiful memoir, and even while the conclusions that it draws may, like the tumultuous decades that it covers, generate some debate, they will no doubt give readers much to think on for a long time to come." Heather Ann Thompson, author of the Pulitzer Prize--winning Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

"An engaging and intimate memoir that offers a personal history of the radical underground and adds context to the story of the Attica uprising." Library Journal

"A nuanced, ambivalent portrait of a man who pushed himself to extremes and left behind a wounded family." CrimeReads

"American Time Bomb is a vital read for this moment." -- Heather Ann Thompson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

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