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Patty's got a gun - William Graebner

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Patty's got a gun - Patricia Hearst in 1970s America
William Graebner
Paperback / softback
The University of Chicago Press
UK Publication Date

It was a story so bizarre it defied belief: in April 1974, twenty-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst robbed a San Francisco bank in the company of members of the Symbionese Liberation Army-who had kidnapped her a mere nine weeks earlier. But the robbery-and the spectacular 1976 trial that ended with Hearst's criminal conviction-seemed oddly appropriate to the troubled mood of the nation, an instant exemplar of a turbulent era.
With Patty's Got a Gun, the first substantial reconsideration of Patty Hearst's story in more than twenty-five years, William Graebner vividly re-creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and frustration of mid-1970s America. Drawing on copious media accounts of the robbery and trial-as well as cultural artifacts from glam rock to Invasion of the Body Snatchers-Graebner paints a compelling portrait of a nation confused and frightened by the upheavals of 1960s liberalism and beginning to tip over into what would become Reagan-era conservatism, with its invocations of individual responsibility and the heroic.Trapped in the middle of that shift, the affectless, zombielike, "brainwashed" Patty Hearst was a ready-made symbol of all that seemed to have gone wrong with the sixties-the inevitable result, some said,of rampant permissiveness, feckless elitism, the loss of moral clarity, and feminism run amok.
By offering a fresh look at Patty Hearst and her trial-for the first time free from the agendas of the day, yet set fully in their cultural context-Patty's Got a Gun delivers a nuanced portrait of both an unforgettable moment and an entire era, one whose repercussions continue to be felt today.

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William Graebner is the author of many books, including The Age of Doubt: American Thought and Culture in the 1940s and Coming of Age in Buffalo: Youth and Authority in the Postwar Era.

Keyword Index
Trials (Robbery) - United States.|Kidnapping - Social aspects - United States - History - 20th century.|Criminal liability - Social aspects - United States - History - 20th century.|United States - Social conditions - 1960-1980.
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