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In the early morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into downtown Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck containing a deadly fertilizer bomb that he and his army buddy Terry Nichols had made the previous day. He parked in a handicapped-parking zone, hopped out of the truck, and walked away into a series of alleys and streets. Shortly after 9:00 A.M., the bomb obliterated one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 infants and toddlers. McVeigh claimed he'd worked only with Nichols, and 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—one that has persisted in the minds of the American public for nearly two decades. 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, which squandered opportunities to penetrate the radical right and prevent the bombing, and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.

To this day, the FBI heralds the Oklahoma City investigation as one of its great triumphs. In reality, though, its handling of the bombing foreshadowed many of the problems that made the country vulnerable to attack again on 9/11. Law enforcement agencies could not see past their own rivalries and underestimated the seriousness of the deadly rhetoric coming from the radical far right. In Oklahoma City, Gumbel and Charles give the fullest, most honest account to date of both the plot and the investigation, drawing a vivid portrait of the unfailingly compelling—driven, eccentric, fractious, funny, and wildly paranoid—characters involved.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062100924
List price: $15.21
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This book is a muddled mess. A rubble pile of names, dates, and cross cut chronology, I could have made better sense of it if it included 1) a list of all the law enforcement, right wing radicals, and witnesses that were profiled and interviewed; and 2) a timeline of events as authors hypothesize them side by side with the timeline presented by McVeigh’s prosecutors. Of course, wrapping things up into a nice little linear narrative arc is what more mainstream nonfiction authors would do (or a prosecutor trying sell a case to a jury) but doing so censors exactly the information Gumbal and Charles are trying to convey. Namely, 1) Oklahoma City bombing involved far more conspirators than McVeigh’s prosecutors presented and that they knew this but let it go to secure a fast and assured conviction for public relations purposes; and, 2) jockish posturing between law enforcement agencies effectively neutered the investigation, creating blind spots not unlike the ones in the lead up to 9/11. But they never come right and say these things, a habit of investigative journalists I find disingenuous. If you have a position, a thesis, you state it openly. I understand the intention of letting reader decide matters for themselves, but if the conclusion you are pointing towards have such profound legal and ethical implications, stopping short puts you dangerously close to mere innuendo. Which, I have to believe, is the opposite of the authors intentions. That being said, the book is very well researched and not a “conspiracy theory” screed. It is just organized poorly. The subject matter and the people therein where so fascinating I couldn’t put it down.more
A surprisingly restrained examination of a super-heated topic. Essentially, the authors seek to reconstruct the social environment that Timothy McVeigh functioned in before the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, explain why it was so hard for federal authorities to penetrate that world before the strike, and dissect the mistakes made in the investigation of the crime.How you value this book will depend on how much you take the post-conviction testimony of Terry Nichols seriously. The authors figure that up to seven individuals lack plausible stories to separate them from the bombing, including Roger E. Moore, gun dealer and the possible bank roller of this crime, and Andreas Strassmeir, a German national who loved the Oklahoma survivalist community and who seemed to have unusual military skills. However, Nichols really doesn't implicate further anyone who hasn't already been associated with this action.One thing that you do come away with from this book is that while Tim McVeigh might have been a legend in his own mind, or covering for a larger conspiracy, he does seem to have been the person with the determination and will to make sure that the attack actually took place. Too many of the other suspects give off the impression that even getting out of bed in the morning was a major challenge for them, let alone staging a major terrorist strike.more
"It was the FBI's finest hour!" at least that is what they thought. In light of the world's worst terrorist attack prior to 9/11, we still have a lot to learn and you would have thought we would have learned plenty by now.On April 19, 1995 at 9:02am, security as we thought we knew it would completely change forever in the lives of 168 people who died that morning going about what they did every day. In Oklahoma City, at the Murrah Federal Building, Timothy McVeigh would take a Ryder rental truck, park it in a handicap spot, light a fuse containing home made bombs and walk away. Two men were convicted in this plot against the government, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. But were they really the only ones involved?In the book, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters by Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles, the readers are given information in a unique way. Challenging the official account of a major historical event can seem presumptuous, even fool hardy. Journalists, and authors, after all, do not have subpoena power, forensics laboratories, or polygraph kits. They can not interview 18,000 witnesses or run down 43,000 leads, as the Oklahoma City investigators did.What they do have, in this case, is the opportunity to review the government's work from start to finish. This book is based on records that have been unearthed for the first time, including the complete archive of documents shared with the defense teams in the two federal trials and in Terry Nichol's state trial in Oklahoma. They also have a voluminous body of writings from Nichols, who did not utter a word for ten years after his arrest but agreed to discuss the case with the authors in great detail.This book does not pick sides in any way but merely showcases where investigators went wrong and the suspects that were never questioned or leads that were not brought to trial. The book lets the reader decided what went wrong and why were only two people arrested and convicted when it appears that so many more were accountable for their actions in this case.I received this book compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and it really brought back for me as a reader and reviewer, what I didn't realize. How the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had a bomb squad out looking for a device outside the Federal Court House just minutes before the explosion but would later deny they did. Did they have advanced warning something was going to happen?How twenty four eye witnesses saw other people with Timothy McVeigh both in the Ryder Truck but also driving three other vehicles around the Murrah Building. "Not one of the witnesses who saw McVeigh that morning were called to testify at trial, because the government determined that every one of them was wrong to say he was not alone. If only one person had seen it, or two or three...but twenty four? That's pretty powerful." (pg 37).This book is truly an eye opener for me and I'm sure for anyone who reads it. For me the main question is from 1995 to 2001, why have we not learned much from one terrorist attack to the next. Is this leaving us open for another attack in the future? History teaches us that we need to learn from our previous mistakes to avoid future ones, and I ask you have we learned enough? I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who is interested in these types of books. I think there is a lesson in there for all of us!more
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Reviews

This book is a muddled mess. A rubble pile of names, dates, and cross cut chronology, I could have made better sense of it if it included 1) a list of all the law enforcement, right wing radicals, and witnesses that were profiled and interviewed; and 2) a timeline of events as authors hypothesize them side by side with the timeline presented by McVeigh’s prosecutors. Of course, wrapping things up into a nice little linear narrative arc is what more mainstream nonfiction authors would do (or a prosecutor trying sell a case to a jury) but doing so censors exactly the information Gumbal and Charles are trying to convey. Namely, 1) Oklahoma City bombing involved far more conspirators than McVeigh’s prosecutors presented and that they knew this but let it go to secure a fast and assured conviction for public relations purposes; and, 2) jockish posturing between law enforcement agencies effectively neutered the investigation, creating blind spots not unlike the ones in the lead up to 9/11. But they never come right and say these things, a habit of investigative journalists I find disingenuous. If you have a position, a thesis, you state it openly. I understand the intention of letting reader decide matters for themselves, but if the conclusion you are pointing towards have such profound legal and ethical implications, stopping short puts you dangerously close to mere innuendo. Which, I have to believe, is the opposite of the authors intentions. That being said, the book is very well researched and not a “conspiracy theory” screed. It is just organized poorly. The subject matter and the people therein where so fascinating I couldn’t put it down.more
A surprisingly restrained examination of a super-heated topic. Essentially, the authors seek to reconstruct the social environment that Timothy McVeigh functioned in before the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, explain why it was so hard for federal authorities to penetrate that world before the strike, and dissect the mistakes made in the investigation of the crime.How you value this book will depend on how much you take the post-conviction testimony of Terry Nichols seriously. The authors figure that up to seven individuals lack plausible stories to separate them from the bombing, including Roger E. Moore, gun dealer and the possible bank roller of this crime, and Andreas Strassmeir, a German national who loved the Oklahoma survivalist community and who seemed to have unusual military skills. However, Nichols really doesn't implicate further anyone who hasn't already been associated with this action.One thing that you do come away with from this book is that while Tim McVeigh might have been a legend in his own mind, or covering for a larger conspiracy, he does seem to have been the person with the determination and will to make sure that the attack actually took place. Too many of the other suspects give off the impression that even getting out of bed in the morning was a major challenge for them, let alone staging a major terrorist strike.more
"It was the FBI's finest hour!" at least that is what they thought. In light of the world's worst terrorist attack prior to 9/11, we still have a lot to learn and you would have thought we would have learned plenty by now.On April 19, 1995 at 9:02am, security as we thought we knew it would completely change forever in the lives of 168 people who died that morning going about what they did every day. In Oklahoma City, at the Murrah Federal Building, Timothy McVeigh would take a Ryder rental truck, park it in a handicap spot, light a fuse containing home made bombs and walk away. Two men were convicted in this plot against the government, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. But were they really the only ones involved?In the book, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters by Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles, the readers are given information in a unique way. Challenging the official account of a major historical event can seem presumptuous, even fool hardy. Journalists, and authors, after all, do not have subpoena power, forensics laboratories, or polygraph kits. They can not interview 18,000 witnesses or run down 43,000 leads, as the Oklahoma City investigators did.What they do have, in this case, is the opportunity to review the government's work from start to finish. This book is based on records that have been unearthed for the first time, including the complete archive of documents shared with the defense teams in the two federal trials and in Terry Nichol's state trial in Oklahoma. They also have a voluminous body of writings from Nichols, who did not utter a word for ten years after his arrest but agreed to discuss the case with the authors in great detail.This book does not pick sides in any way but merely showcases where investigators went wrong and the suspects that were never questioned or leads that were not brought to trial. The book lets the reader decided what went wrong and why were only two people arrested and convicted when it appears that so many more were accountable for their actions in this case.I received this book compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and it really brought back for me as a reader and reviewer, what I didn't realize. How the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had a bomb squad out looking for a device outside the Federal Court House just minutes before the explosion but would later deny they did. Did they have advanced warning something was going to happen?How twenty four eye witnesses saw other people with Timothy McVeigh both in the Ryder Truck but also driving three other vehicles around the Murrah Building. "Not one of the witnesses who saw McVeigh that morning were called to testify at trial, because the government determined that every one of them was wrong to say he was not alone. If only one person had seen it, or two or three...but twenty four? That's pretty powerful." (pg 37).This book is truly an eye opener for me and I'm sure for anyone who reads it. For me the main question is from 1995 to 2001, why have we not learned much from one terrorist attack to the next. Is this leaving us open for another attack in the future? History teaches us that we need to learn from our previous mistakes to avoid future ones, and I ask you have we learned enough? I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who is interested in these types of books. I think there is a lesson in there for all of us!more
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