Oklahoma City LP: What the Investigation Missed--and Why It Still Matters

Overview

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck and detonated a deadly fertilizer bomb, obliterating one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killing 168 people. McVeigh claimed he conspired only with his old army buddy Terry Nichols, who had helped him make the bomb the day before. At least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh's was just one version of events, and much of it was wrong.

In Oklahoma City, veteran ...

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Overview

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck and detonated a deadly fertilizer bomb, obliterating one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killing 168 people. McVeigh claimed he conspired only with his old army buddy Terry Nichols, who had helped him make the bomb the day before. At least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh's was just one version of events, and much of it was wrong.

In Oklahoma City, veteran investigative journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles puncture the myth about what happened on that day. Working with unprecedented access to government documents, a voluminous correspondence with Terry Nichols, and more than 150 interviews with those immediately involved, Gumbel and Charles demonstrate how much was missed beyond the guilt of the two principal defendants: in particular, the dysfunction within the country's law enforcement agencies and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

More than fifteen years have passed since Timothy McVeigh's deadly bombing in Oklahoma City, but most of us still associate the name of the city with that horrendous attack. This new book by veteran award-winning investigative reporters Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles contends that McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols did not act alone, but were part of a virulent, clandestine antigovernment militia. Bound to receive media attention.

Sallye Leventhal

Publishers Weekly
Intriguing leads—but no smoking guns—point to a wider conspiracy in the 1995 terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City in this suggestive recap. Journalists Gumbel (Steal This Vote) and Charles trace the plot by antigovernment zealot Timothy McVeigh and his submissive sidekick, Terry Nichols, to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people, and the allegedly botched investigation. The authors’ meandering, disjointed probe examines evidence of additional culprits that they contend was dismissed by fractious federal investigators: eyewitness accounts of a “John Doe Two” present when the bomb-bearing truck was rented; sightings of other figures accompanying McVeigh during the attack; McVeigh’s extensive contacts with other extremists. Advancing a restrained, plausible theory that there were other violent, ultraconservative racists in on the crime besides the two who confessed, the authors offer an inconclusive case that doesn’t tell us which potential co-conspirators did what. They do paint a vivid portrait of the right-wing circles in which McVeigh and Nichols moved, a colorful milieu of gun nuts, fundamentalist sectarians, cross-dressers, meth heads, and costumed neo-Nazi bank robbers. While not fingering a specific perp, Gumbel and Charles present a telling sketch of the subculture that birthed the crime. Photos. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (Apr.)
Kansas City Star
"A well-reported, sober assessment... They make a strong case that some individuals involved in the bombing remain at liberty...the message is important for the future security of the U.S. citizenry."
Wall Street Journal
"Extraordinarily well-researched… The book brilliantly deconstructs the investigation."
Tulsa World
"Credible and relevant... Offers a perspective other than what was proved at the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols...and explores the unsettling question of whether such an event could happen again by homegrown perpetrators."
Salon
"Impressive... There are enough freak-show touches to keep an FX drama stocked for three seasons… As Gumbel and Rogers tell it, the bombing investigation fell short of discovering the truth because of sloppiness, self-serving intra-office politics, and obstructive turf wars among law enforcement agencies."
The Tucson Citizen
"This crisply written, fully documented book will anger you."
The Commercial Dispatch (Mississippi)
"The most comprehensive account yet...will dash the smug assertions at the time that the feds had caught all the perpetrators."
Michael Isikoff
"The story of the Murrah building bombing receives its most comprehensive accounting yet… It is a cautionary and at times startling tale, filled with bizarre characters from the outer fringes of American political life, with continuing relevance today."
Library Journal
Gumbel has been writing about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing for over ten years. Charles was a consultant for ABC's 20/20 1996–97 coverage of the bombing. Both are award-winning investigative journalists, and Charles is also a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. So we should pay attention when they argue that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone but were part of a disaffected antigovernment militia. With a 100,000-copy first printing and likely of considerable import; I hope people will listen.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalists Gumbel (Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America, 2005, etc.) and Charles investigate the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, uncovering failures in the official investigation and making a strong case for a larger conspiracy that fueled the attack. In this minutely researched book, the authors take a multifaceted approach. Beginning days before the April 19 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, the authors retrace the movements of the two men officially accused of the crime, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, as well as their known associates in radicalized militia communities scattered across the Midwest. Tracing the events of that day, the authors recount the series of miscalculations that led the bombers to switch targets, as well as hypothesize about the larger networks of discontented extremists who had long been threatening a response to the federal government's bungled handling of the Waco situation. Gumbel and Charles balance their account of the perpetrators with multi-agency accounts from FEMA, the FBI, the ATF and local police and fire departments. By comparing these agency narratives, it becomes clear that many errors in the investigation were the product of miscommunication, territorialism and, in some cases, purposeful misrepresentations on the part of agents. The many voices of responders and investigators add to the voluminous cast of characters featured, from the ranks of extremist militia groups to the stalwart firefighters who treated the first victims. The authors deliver a compelling, articulate narrative history, thorough in both mainstream theories about the bombing and fringe conspiracy theories. A valuable contribution to the larger study of terrorism in the United States.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062107107
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Edition description: Larger Pri
  • Pages: 682
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Gumbel

Andrew Gumbel has worked for more than twenty years as a foreign correspondent for British newspapers. He has won awards for investigative reporting and political commentary, and written widely for U.S. publications including the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic. His book Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America was published to great acclaim in 2005. He was born in England and educated at Oxford University.

Roger G. Charles is a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps and an award-winning investigative journalist. In 1996 and 1997 he was a consultant on the Oklahoma City bombing for ABC's 20/20. He also worked as an investigator for Stephen Jones and the legal team defending Timothy McVeigh in his federal trial. Charles was born in Texas, raised in West Virginia, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1967.

Andrew Gumbel has worked for more than twenty years as a foreign correspondent for British newspapers. He has won awards for investigative reporting and political commentary, and written widely for U.S. publications including the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic. His book Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America was published to great acclaim in 2005. He was born in England and educated at Oxford University.

Roger G. Charles is a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps and an award-winning investigative journalist. In 1996 and 1997 he was a consultant on the Oklahoma City bombing for ABC's 20/20. He also worked as an investigator for Stephen Jones and the legal team defending Timothy McVeigh in his federal trial. Charles was born in Texas, raised in West Virginia, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1967.

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