Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F.

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The Baader-Meinhof Group--later known as the Red Army Faction (RAF)--was a violent urban guerilla group which terrorized Germany in the 1970s and '80s, killing 47 people, wounding 93, taking 162 hostages, and robbing 35 banks--all in an attempt to bring revolution to the Federal Republic.

Stefan Aust's masterful history of the Group presents the definitive account, capturing a highly complex story both accurately and colorfully. Much new information has surfaced since the mass suicide of the Groups' leaders in the 1980s. Some RAF members have come forward to testify in new investigations and formerly classified Stasi documents have been made public since the fall of the Berlin Wall, all contributing to a fuller picture of the RAF and the events surrounding their demise. Aust presents the complete history of the RAF, from the creation in 1970 to the breakup in 1998, incorporating all of the new information. For instance, there is growing evidence that the German secret service eavesdropped on Baader, Meinhof, and the other RAF members imprisoned in Stammheim and that they knew that the terrorists planned a mass suicide, but did nothing to prevent it. Also, there is new information about the role of the RAF lawyers (among them Otto Schily who later was Minister of the Interior in Gerhard Schröder's cabinet), and the roles of the different RAF members and the rivalry between them. The volume will also contain numerous photos.

Terrorism today is never far from most people's thoughts. Baader-Meinhof offers a gripping account of one of the most violent terrorist groups of the late twentieth century, in a compelling look at what they did, why they did it, and how they were brought to justice.

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  • The Baader-Meinhof Complex
    The Baader-Meinhof Complex  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A Wall Street Journal Standout Selection Book of 2009

Chosen as a Best Book of 2009 by Seattle Times readers

"Excellent."--Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair

"Riveting."--Washington Post

"In this comprehensive history of the group, German reporter Stefan Aust incorporates new information to present a full portrait of the group, based on testimonies by former group members to investigators and formerly classified Stasi documents." --Perspectives on Terrorism

"There has never been an account as authoritative, or as gripping, as 'Baader-Meinhof,' which has the advantage of being related by a journalist who was once so close to the action that the gang targeted him for death... a riveting portrait of the gang and its two leaders, Andreas and Ulrike Meinhof.... Mr. Aust tells the Baader-Meinhof story with journalistic care but also with an acute sense of drama... 'Baader-Meinhof" might seem an unlikely book to recommend -- after all, it's about far-away and long-ago antiwar radicalism. But it is also a clear-eyed look at the inner workings of a group driven by violent fanaticism, and on that score Mr. Aust's indispensable work could not be more timely."--Wall Street Journal

"Meticulously researched."--Kurt Loder,

"This is one of the best books I've read this year in any genre."--John Wilson, Christianity Today

"Riveting."--Regina Weinreich

"Aust writes about his subject with admirable dispassion and clarity and in exacting detail, tracking the cat-and-mouse movements between the group and the German police and its political leaders not just over several years, but down to the hour... one could not ask for a better guide to this story, and baring some significant new revelations, "Baader-Meinhof" is certain to be the final word on the subject."--The Seattle Times

"Exhaustively detailing the group's exploits from 1970 until the prison suicides of the leaders in 1977, Aust offers fascinating insights into both the spectacular and the mundane aspects of life in a terrorist cadre. He also offers includes new information obtained from Stasi files released after Germany's reunification... this fast-paced account allows readers to peer into the minds of actors engaged in committing horrific acts of violence with the goal of advancing a political agenda--a timely subject in the age of global terrorism."--Library Journal

"Among Germany's many chronicles of its homegrown terrorists, Stefan Aust's 1985 600-page Baader-Meinhof Komplex stands out as the classic.... The 2008 reworked translation of Aust's book, Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F., provides English readers with the German Autumn story, updated with Aust's latest findings."--Washington Monthly

Library Journal

The quintessential radical leftist terrorist group, founded in 1970 and eventually known as the Red Army Faction, Baader-Meinhof was responsible for 34 deaths in Germany over a 30-year period. Aust (former editor in chief, Der Spiegel) first published a book on this group in 1985, with an updated version appearing in 1997. This revised and expanded edition is the first to appear here in English translation. Exhaustively detailing the group's exploits from 1970 until the prison suicides of the leaders in 1977, Aust offers fascinating insights into both the spectacular and the mundane aspects of life in a terrorist cadre. He also offers includes new information obtained from Stasi files released after Germany's reunification. VERDICT The narrative stresses Baader-Meinhof's actions rather than analysis of its ideology, which can only be gleaned from quotes by members interspersed throughout and from Aust's commentary about the political climate in Germany at the time. Still, this fast-paced account allows readers to peer into the minds of actors engaged in committing horrific acts of violence with the goal of advancing a political agenda—a timely subject in the age of global terrorism.—Theresa Kintz, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA

—Theresa Kintz
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195372755
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/2009
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 697,329
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 4.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Aust is a journalist and editor living in Germany. He has been chief editor of Spiegel TV, and was chief editor of Der Spiegel in Hamburg from 1994-2008. Aust is co-writer of the film script for the German movie Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, which released in Germany in Fall 2008 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    Very good.

    Very good.

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