History, Politics and Current Events, Press Releases

Press Release: Graebner, Patty’s Got a Gun

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It was an unforgettably bizarre image: a beret-clad Patty Hearst, looking for all the world like a brainwashed zombie, toting a submachine gun as she and her erstwhile kidnappers from the Symbionese Liberation Army robbed a San Francisco bank in broad daylight. In that moment, Patty Hearst became one of the indelible symbols of 1970s America—an era suffused with confusion, anomie, and a vague sense of dissolution and decline, the heady promise of the 1960s already seeming impossibly distant.
With Patty’s Got a Gun, William Graebner offers the first full reconsideration of the Patty Hearst story in decades. Setting the abduction, robbery, and the sensational criminal trial that followed fully in the context of the era, he offers us a Patty Hearst who more than anything served as a mirror to her times. Politicians, pundits and reporters saw in Hearst the embodiment (and often the justification) of their own take on the problems of American culture, from feminism to individualism to plain old lax parenting—and the conclusions they drew directly fueled the burgeoning Reaganite retrenchment. Steeped in the culture of the 1970s, Patty’s Got a Gun grippingly recreates the media circus around the Hearst trial—and the single, affectless individual at its heart.
Read the press release.
Also, read an excerpt or listen to an audio interview.