Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist

Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of an American Terrorist

by Alston Chase




From brilliant scholar to serial killer: was Ted Kaczynski mad? Or is he a mirror to our times?

On the basis of exhaustive research and much previously unpublished material, Alston Chase presents a radically new interpretation of the infamous Unabomber. He projects Kaczynski's life against the backdrop of the cold war, when the prospect of nuclear conflict generated on college campuses a fear of technology and a culture of despair. On those same campuses, federal agencies enlisted psychologists in a search for technologies of mind control and encouraged ethically questionable experiments on unwitting students.

Chase's gripping account follows Kaczynski from an unhappy adolescence in Illinois to Harvard University—where Kaczynski absorbed the ideas that would eventually surface in his famous Unabomber Manifesto—to graduate school, and finally to the edge of the wilderness in Montana, where he put his unthinkable plans into action.

This is a cautionary tale about modern evil, and the conditions that provoked Kaczynski's alienation remain in place. Paradoxically, they may be about to get worse, as the war on terrorism replaces the cold war in American policy and imagination. 16 pages of b/w photographs.

Author Biography: Alston Chase lives in Livingston, Montana.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393020021
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/10/2003
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.41(d)

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Harvard and the Unabomber 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harvard and the Unabomber is interesting and contains quite a bit of new information about T.Kacsynski but,is ultimately flawed by the authors facile conclusions about what forces produced the murdering revolutionary. Chase, perhaps because of his own less than favorable experiences at Harvard,coupled with an aversion for psychology(and Dr Murray),overstates the importance of Harvard and its 'culture of despair' in the creation of the unabomber. A more plausible explanation is readily available to those willing and able to even momentarily empathize with Mr Kascynski as a human being.Ted was both frustruated and lonely.He was an egomaniac.He was a talented genius.He was socially inept.He was rigid and difficult.He was doctrinaire. He never, it seems, got laid.This fact if true,might drive better men to extremes.Chases ignores the key fact that, most importantly, Ted was a human being in need of love and companionship, which he apparently, never received. Chase misses this point entirely, simple as it may seem. Mr Kacsynski's pride, talent, ego, and aloofness/shyness,and lonliness were his undoing, and sadly enough three other peoples as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kaczynski and Chase were both PhDs who found refuge from civilization in the Montana wilderness. But the two men were very different psychologically. Chase had a wife and children. Kaczynski never came near to having a relationship with a woman. That he didn't turn into an addict of either commercial sex or drugs is a riddle that Chase doesn't try to explain. Instead he projects his own despair produced by existential literature onto Kaszynski. Another riddle is why a mathematical genius like Ted was unmoved by the beauty, power and mystery of mathematical physics. The book deserves 4 stars because of its wide scholarship.
Guest More than 1 year ago
intelligently written and a chiller -- also a fine analytic picture of cultural landscape in the last half of 20th century in america -- can't praise this book highly enough -- am profoundly grateful that chase wrote it --
Guest More than 1 year ago
This study of the evolution of Ted Kaczynski into a serial killer is stunning. Alston Chase probes the tragic and malevolent forces, some of them unleashed by the cold war, that ultimately twisted the rather fragile mind and ego of the young Harvard student who was to become a murderous radical. The material unearthed by Chase is stunning. He makes a compelling case that things were very wrong in the academic environment that tormented the man who became the unabomber. The magnificent research, scholarship, and sheer readability of this biography leads me to believe that it will win major literary prizes.