The Long View: The Turner Diaries

Like Imperium, The Turner Diaries are a mainstay of the lunatic fringe. It is also a classic millennial text. I have never read this book, and I have no intention to. However, John read and reviewed it because the millennial impulse can and does break out in the real world, and we ought to know how bad it can get.

The Turner Diaries
by "Andrew MacDonald" (William L. Pierce)
The National Alliance, 1978
Approx. 80,000 words

WARNING TO THE READER: This is the most repulsive book I have ever reviewed. Persons offended by descriptions of virulent racism and of the advocacy of genocide may not wish to continue reading.

Bibliographical Note

According to Michael Barkun in Religion and the Racist Right (p. 225 et seq.), the author of "The Turner Diaries" is one William L. Pierce, writing under the pseudonym "Andrew MacDonald." Pierce received a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado and worked in industry and as a university instructor before becoming involved with Nazi groups in the 1960s. "The Turner Diaries" appeared from 1975 to 1978 as a serial in "Attack!," a publication of the National Alliance, an American Nazi faction led by Pierce. ("Attack" [Der Angriff] was also the name of the paper Josef Goebbels founded in Berlin in the 1920s.) The book was first published as a paperback in 1978, and Barkun cites a second edition, also published by the National Alliance (Washington, DC 1980). The text for this review was found online, without copyright, at in December 1997.

"The Turner Diaries" has been around for about 20 years at this writing. This work has long been of some interest to students of religious and political cults. What made it famous, however, was the destruction of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. (The date was apparently chosen to commemorate the destruction of the compound of the Branch Davidian sect at Waco, Texas, precisely two years earlier.) The crime was committed with a truck bomb using ammonium nitrate fertilizer as an explosive, a weapon system described in some detail in this book. While there is no reason to believe that the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were working directly from the historical script set out in "The Turner Diaries," nevertheless the book is well-known in the circles with which they associated. Echoes of names and incidents in the story, such as the racist insurgent group known as the "Order" that appeared in the 1980s, continue to turn up from time to time.

The book purports to have been published in the year 100 of the New Era, which is apparently about AD 2100. In form, the book is a commemorative edition of the diaries of one Earl Turner, a 35 year-old electrical engineer who became a hero of the Great Revolution that preceded the New Era. The diaries cover Turner's activities as an insurgent from 1991 to his death in 1993. The revolution was orchestrated by a guerrilla army known simply as "the Organization." (Its opponents are normally referred to collectively as "the System.") The heart of the Organization was a quasi-religious group known as "the Order," into which Turner is inducted. We learn almost nothing about the governance or history of these bodies, though the Order seems to be inspired by the Templar-model of the SS sometimes favored by Heinrich Himmler, under the apparent influence of the apostate Austrian monk Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. (See "The Occult Roots of Nazism" by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press, 1992) For that matter, there is no systematic exposition of the beliefs of either the Organization or the Order. The diaries are supposed to provide a ground level view of a great event, interspersed with occasional reflections.

Before proceeding to an analysis, it would be helpful to look at a full chronology of the dates and events named in the text. The story is built around a system of commemorative dates. The major events of the Great Revolution are almost all timed to coincide with such anniversaries as Hitler's ascension to the Chancellorship of Germany (January 30), Hitler's birthday (April 20) and, especially, the Beer Hall Putsch and Kristallnacht (November 9). Some of these dates, as well as the sophisticated weapons the author describes, may unfortunately have relevance in the future.