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Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in…
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Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America (udgave 2008)

af William Graebner (Forfatter)

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431456,976 (3.33)Ingen
It was a story so bizarre it defied belief: in April 1974, twenty-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst robbed a San Francisco bank in the company of members of the Symbionese Liberation Army--who had kidnapped her a mere nine weeks earlier. But the robbery--and the spectacular 1976 trial that ended with Hearst's criminal conviction--seemed oddly appropriate to the troubled mood of the nation, an instant exemplar of a turbulent era.   With Patty's Got a Gun, the first substantial reconsideration of Patty Hearst's story in more than twenty-five years, William Graebner vividly re-creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and frustration of mid-1970s America. Drawing on copious media accounts of the robbery and trial--as well as cultural artifacts from glam rock to Invasion of the Body Snatchers--Graebner paints a compelling portrait of a nation confused and frightened by the upheavals of 1960s liberalism and beginning to tip over into what would become Reagan-era conservatism, with its invocations of individual responsibility and the heroic. Trapped in the middle of that shift, the affectless, zombielike, "brainwashed" Patty Hearst was a ready-made symbol of all that seemed to have gone wrong with the sixties--the inevitable result, some said, of rampant permissiveness, feckless elitism, the loss of moral clarity, and feminism run amok.   By offering a fresh look at Patty Hearst and her trial--for the first time free from the agendas of the day, yet set fully in their cultural context--Patty's Got a Gun delivers a nuanced portrait of both an unforgettable moment and an entire era, one whose repercussions continue to be felt today.… (mere)
Medlem:Oneworldgys
Titel:Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America
Forfattere:William Graebner (Forfatter)
Info:University Of Chicago Press (2008), Edition: 1, 228 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America af William Graebner

  1. 00
    Sway af Zachary Lazar (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both books put the 60s & 70s into a similar cultural critical perspective, one via fiction, the other nonfiction. I highly recommend both.
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Although classified as true crime, this treatment of the Patty Hearst ordeal is unlike any other true crime book I have read. Rather than present the events chronologically, this book tends to present events in the context of the culture of the nation. As someone who did not live during the time of the kidnapping and conviction of Patricia Hearst, I felt lost at times, particularly in the first third of the book. However, as an exposé of the American psyche during the 1970s, the author’s research and analysis were prodigious.

Early on in the book, Graebner states that if Patty had been tried ten years earlier or ten years later, the outcome of her trial would surely have been different. That she was tried and convicted in 1976 made a world of difference. In the 1960s, Graebner asserts, she would have been acquitted, viewed as a victim. In the 1980s, she would have been convicted, a failure at personal responsibility. The 1970s, however, was a period of transition in which the American people’s views were torn between recognizing that victimization does occur and the fact that we are all responsible for our own actions.

The first part of the book deals with the events of the abduction, imprisonment, conversion to a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), the missing year, arrest, trial, and conviction. Told mainly through a media perspective, Graebner discusses how Patty’s image in the media was transformed as time passed and her actions became increasingly misunderstood and ridiculed. She became culpable by participating in criminal activity, creating tape recordings defending the SLA and their mission, and failing to escape for more than a year with seemingly ample opportunities. During her trial, the defense relied on Patty’s victimization and need for survival to justify her actions. The prosecution relied on the growing belligerence of the public that saw far too many people attempt to explain away bad behavior through psycho-babble and a growing concern that people were failing to own up to their own actions. That Patty was eventually convicted and sent to prison was testament to the growing sentiment towards personal responsibility. Of the public’s and jury’s reactions, Graebner states, “The reclamation of social morality, then, required repudiating Patty’s amoral situational ethics, and that meant putting her in prison.” (p. 113)

The second part of the book delves into the social forces of the 1970s that played a role in viewing and convicting Patty. Of much concern to the author are the growing feelings of ambiguity and distrust of psychology at that time. Patty’s lawyers placed psychologists on the stand that affirmed the nature of persuasive coercion and the real effects of brainwashing effects on hostages, citing examples of prisoners of war. Despite this, people were still perplexed by Patty’s actions and refused to see her as strictly a victim. As an explanation, the author states of the American people:

“By 1975 that confidence was gone, a victim of assassinations, Vietnam, urban riots, Watergate, the emergence of terrorism, and global economic forces that threatened the nation’s dominance. Gone too, as Patty’s trial revealed, was the sense that anyone, least of all a psychiatrist, could know what had happened within another person’s mind. What remained was a surfeit of competing explanations, often couched in rhetorics of moral principle and politics, marking a fragmented, divided, and contentious society.” (p. 118)

In this climate, Patty became a mirror. She could be seen in such a myriad of ways and her actions could be understood from such dynamic perspectives that the tendency to project was great, and these projections “…were shaped by, and emerged from, American society and culture in the 1970s.” (p. 120) The author discusses many social-psychological topics in-depth that help to place Patty Hearst in context – the fragile self, the victim, the survivor, Stockholm syndrome, paranoia, the emergence of a conservative political force, and the longing for heroism. The 1970s as a transition period in American culture allowed these projections to be placed on Patty as the nation grappled with who they were and who they wanted to be. As Graebner concludes:

“In the end, this story was less about Patty than about what Americans wanted to believe of themselves: that they were a resilient people, possessed of free will, capable of transcending the malaise that was settling over the nation, capable even, as Patricia Hearst had not been, of heroism.” (p. 180)

This book was compelling, and all the more so because it does not provide the blow-by-blow account of the Patricia Hearst episode. It probes much deeper and finds meaning and explanation in a story mired in the inexplicable. By placing Patty in the context of a changing culture and given the events that precipitated the shift, Graebner is able to shine considerable light on what makes this case so intangible and perplexing, and he provides a framework on which to understand the divergent and often dogmatic perspectives of Patricia Hearst.
  Carlie | Oct 14, 2010 |
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It was a story so bizarre it defied belief: in April 1974, twenty-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst robbed a San Francisco bank in the company of members of the Symbionese Liberation Army--who had kidnapped her a mere nine weeks earlier. But the robbery--and the spectacular 1976 trial that ended with Hearst's criminal conviction--seemed oddly appropriate to the troubled mood of the nation, an instant exemplar of a turbulent era.   With Patty's Got a Gun, the first substantial reconsideration of Patty Hearst's story in more than twenty-five years, William Graebner vividly re-creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and frustration of mid-1970s America. Drawing on copious media accounts of the robbery and trial--as well as cultural artifacts from glam rock to Invasion of the Body Snatchers--Graebner paints a compelling portrait of a nation confused and frightened by the upheavals of 1960s liberalism and beginning to tip over into what would become Reagan-era conservatism, with its invocations of individual responsibility and the heroic. Trapped in the middle of that shift, the affectless, zombielike, "brainwashed" Patty Hearst was a ready-made symbol of all that seemed to have gone wrong with the sixties--the inevitable result, some said, of rampant permissiveness, feckless elitism, the loss of moral clarity, and feminism run amok.   By offering a fresh look at Patty Hearst and her trial--for the first time free from the agendas of the day, yet set fully in their cultural context--Patty's Got a Gun delivers a nuanced portrait of both an unforgettable moment and an entire era, one whose repercussions continue to be felt today.

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