Item description for Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond by Mark Ames...
An eye-opening look at the phenomenon of school and workplace shootings in America, Going Postal explores the rage-murder phenomenon that has plagued — and baffled — America for the last three decades, and offers some provocative answers to the oft-asked question, "Why?" By juxtaposing the historical place of rage in America with the social climate that has existed since the 1980s — when Reaganomics began to widen the gap between executive and average-worker earnings — the author crafts a convincing argument that these schoolyard and office massacres can be seen as modern-day slave rebellions. He presents many fascinating and unexpected cases in detail. Like slave rebellions, these massacres are doomed, gory, sometimes even inadvertently comic, and grossly misunderstood. Taking up where Bowling for Columbine left off, this book seeks to set these murders in their proper context and thereby reveal their meaning.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Nov 16, 2005
Publisher Soft Skull Press
ISBN 1932360824 ISBN13 9781932360820
Reviews - What do customers think about Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond?
Leftist & Tedious Aug 28, 2008
I found myself purchasing this book with high hopes of reading a thorough interpretation of the basis for the workplace and school shootings that have plagued the US since the 1980s. I had read a few editions of "the eXile" and expected "Going Postal" to offer an constructive insight, further fuelled by the positive reviews I'd read on the book on this site and others. However I must say I was greatly disappointed.
Quite simply there's too much that sounded like an extreme leftist spiel that I struggled to justify finishing the book. Aside from the factual descriptions of the numerous shootings and the accompanying interviews, so much of the book features laughable speculation and absurd arguments that it by the middle of the second chapter, reading the book had become quite tedious.
I'm in no way a fan of Ronald Reagan's, but the way that Ames seems to relate every single massacre post 1980 to Reagan, apportioning the blame at his feet is not only a ludicrous exaggeration and offensive, it completely undermines his work.
I thought the way he detailed the shootings of the 1980s and 1990s with interviews and first-hand accounts was insightful and interesting, but I found it somewhat grating how he would often denounce other writers' theories on the reasoning behind such shootings without any persuasive analysis or arguments, only to then introduce his own unsubstantiated and often far-fetched reasons.
He clearly had an overall arc geared for his work, that whilst interesting to read on a blurb, was in reality too thread-bare to go beyond an essay. His attempts to relate everything back to Reagan, and also to the concept of "modern-day slave rebellions" were frequently so far beyond logic, that this reader found himself putting the book in the dust-bin.
Should be mandatory reading for all supervisors May 30, 2008
This book could save many lives if its truth were widely embraced by the corporate and academic worlds. Bullying must be confronted and addressed as the most dangerous component of potentially lethal school and workplace relationships. Ames has performed a great service with his in-depth research and analysis. His history of slavery including its modern mutated form is powerful and embarassing in its hard truth. I recommend all supervisors take a special day off just to read this book. It might save your life and those around you.
Original and provocative analysis Feb 15, 2008
When you crack open a book entitled "Going Postal," you don't expect to start reading about the antebellum South. But Ames starts by transporting us back in time in service of his provocative theme - that today's rage murders in workplaces and schools are contemporary forms of slave rebellion, indeed the only possible form of rebellion in a society as decollectivized and militarized as the modern corporate United States.
In this highly original and intriguing analysis, Ames ridicules "copycat" pundits who myopically search everywhere but right in front of their faces to explain the wave of workplace and schoolyard shootings that has swept through the United States over the last couple of decades. Hollywood movies, video games, the National Rifle Association, mental illness, bad parenting - the list of potential culprits is endless. But never the "toxic culture" of the institutions that breed these doomed revolts.
Whereas initial news accounts often vilify shooters as almost cartoon cutouts - mentally imbalanced, trench-coated racists or kooks - Ames offers in-depth portrayals, so we come to know them as ordinary human beings oppressed and stressed to the breaking point by a ruthless corporate or school environment. Attempts to profile individual offenders fall flat, Ames argues, because the offenders are potentially anyone. As evidence, he catalogs the widespread sympathy for many of the shooters among their former coworkers and classmates. One would never see such sympathy among victims of serial sex murderers, he points out.
Instead of profiling the individual rebels, Ames profiles the institutions. Shootings, he argues, happen in corporate environments rife with alienation, surveillance, mandatory unpaid overtime, and humiliating and degrading layoff rituals, where managers consciously harness fear to increase worker stress and insecurity. Sites of school shootings, meanwhile, are brutal environments where students undergo horrific torment only exacerbated by Zero Tolerance crackdowns.
This book is meticulously researched and brilliantly argued. It's too bad that Ames couldn't find a better publisher, because the technical quality is extremely poor and the copy editor must have been on an extended coffee break. I understand that his first publisher bailed after 9/11. But the typos, overly small text, and poor binding are all minor, superficial flaws that should not stop you from buying and reading this fascinating book.
PS: Coincidentally, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the latest rampage was underway, at Northern Illinois University. Although some other shooters have left written explanations or made posthoc statements (all included in Ames' book), this case is unusual in that killer Steven Kazmierczak co-authored a scholarly journal whose prophetic thesis almost exactly parallels Ames'. For more on this, you can see my blog entry of Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), at forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com.
good stuff Aug 1, 2007
It may not be politically correct or very American, but this book really drives home some of the major problems in American society, well presented and not willing to pull punches, it may be to close to the truth for most americans
Former federal employee concurs Jul 25, 2007
Mark Ames must have had some hardened life. He gets it right on the money when he describes the institutional torment that leads to destructive behavior. In the end, when the institution takes everything including truth, compassion and dignity, the rational response is rage, murder and rebellion.
This is a well-researched book, put out by someone who spent a lot of time researching and documenting the pattern. Ames' unlikely connection between slavery and the working man is made convincingly, with slavery occasionally being the more humane of the two.
I left government service recently, after watching three supervisors fall prey to love-hate dependency-based work relationships. All of them eventually succumbed to rage. I spent time speaking with other office employees, both former and current, who lost their emotional balance and faded into oblivion, whether fired or effectively incapacitated. I had to read this book to understand the dynamics behind this less-than-rare phenomenon. Ames' validation is a double-edged sword. What is frightening is the notion that this oppression occurs frequently, but is never documented until someone commits mass murder. Ames notes in his book that rebellion occurs with great infrequency, as the unknown is always more frightening than the known, however unpleasant.
"Going Postal" is a must-read book, although it is less gory than it is reflective. Ames is an excellent historian and consolidator of relationship dynamics. His ability to interview his subjects and pick up on the details -- sometimes even humorous in a macabre way -- makes this a facinating documentary.