Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kyle Burke

Kyle Burke is the Nicholas D. Chabraja postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. Starting fall 2018, he will be assistant professor of history at Hartwick College.

His new book is Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War.

Recently I asked Burke about what he was reading. His reply:
As a history professor, I’m often reading several books at the same time. Most are non-fiction works related to my teaching and research, though I generally have a novel or two in the mix.

I just finished Kathleen Belew’s outstanding and dismaying Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. Based on deep research into FBI files, obscure far-right publications, and other sources, Belew explains the origin and evolution of a militarized white power movement that now spans the country. Starting in the late 1970s, disparate sets of Klansman, neo-Nazis, tax protesters, Christian Identarians, and others joined forces. But rather than unite under a single banner, they utilized a strategy of “leaderless resistance,” which bred dispersed acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. Few authorities or commentators were able to link seemingly diffuse acts of violence to each other, or to the world of white power. Instead, they explained the far-right’s growing capacity for violence as the work of “lone wolves,” a framing that persists today. But, as Belew shows, they were in fact part of a decades-old, well-organized, nation-spanning movement. Bring the War Home is required reading for anyone who hopes to understand the far right today.

For fun, I’ve been reading Chilean novelist and poet Robert Bolaño. I first encountered his novella, By Night in Chile, which a friend bought me. A stream-of-fever dream of a Chilean priest on his death bed, By Night in Chile shows Bolaño grappling with the grim years of the murderous Pinochet dictatorship. The Savage Detectives follows two young, disillusioned poets across continents and decades, trying to make sense of a terrible act of violence that set them on the path to exile. I’ve recently begun Bolaño’s hefty 2666, which centers on the fictional Mexican town of Santa Teresa, based on Ciudad Juárez, where several characters investigate the fate of hundreds of missing women. Bolaño, who passed away in 2003, was a writer of extraordinary depth and lyricism. His books are immersive, wickedly funny, and heartbreakingly sad.
Learn more about Revolutionaries for the Right at The University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue