Jump to content

The Turner Diaries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Turner Diaries
Cover of The Turner Diaries (1st ed.)
Cover of the first edition
AuthorWilliam Luther Pierce (as Andrew Macdonald)
IllustratorDennis Nix
PublisherNational Vanguard Books
Publication date
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint
Pages211 (2nd ed.)
ISBN0-937-94402-5 2nd edition, paperback
LC ClassPS3563.A2747
Followed byHunter 

The Turner Diaries is a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce, a neo-Nazi and the founder and chairman of National Alliance, a white nationalist group, published under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald.[1][2] It depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the federal government, a nuclear war, and ultimately a race war which leads to the systematic extermination of non-whites and Jews.[3][4] All groups opposed by the novel's protagonist, Earl Turner—including Jews, non-white people, "liberal actors," and politicians—are murdered en masse.[5]

The Turner Diaries was described as being "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled the "bible of the racist right" by the FBI.[6][7] The book was greatly influential in shaping white nationalism and the later development of the white genocide conspiracy theory. It has also inspired numerous hate crimes and acts of terrorism, including the 1984 assassination of Alan Berg, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and the 1999 London nail bombings. It is estimated to have influenced perpetrators in over 200 killings.


A framing device which takes place in 2099 (100 years after the events depicted) gives the novel's main text a historical context, which is presented as the journal of Earl Turner, an active member of a white nationalist movement known as the Organization. After the federal government has confiscated all civilian firearms in the country under the Cohen Act, Turner and his colleagues take their movement underground to wage a guerrilla war against what he terms the "System", a loose network of America's most powerful institutions of government, media, society and finance, which are depicted as all being led by Jews.[5] The System begins by implementing numerous repressive laws against various forms of prejudice: by making it a hate crime for white people to defend themselves when crimes are committed against them by non-white people, even after all weapons have been confiscated; and pushing for new surveillance measures to monitor its citizens, such as requiring them to possess a special passport at all times to permanently monitor where individuals are. The "Organization" starts its campaigns by committing acts such as the bombing of the FBI headquarters, then carrying on a relentless, low-level campaign of resistance, assassination, and economic sabotage throughout the United States.

Turner plays a large part in activities in the Washington, D.C. area. When the President of the United States delivers a speech denouncing racists and demanding that all members of the Organization be brought to justice, Turner and other Organization members launch mortars into the streets of Washington from far away, forcing the President and other government officials to evacuate. In another scene, Turner watches an anti-racism parade on television in which whites who are not part of the parade are pulled aside and beaten (sometimes to death) by non-white marchers; the march eventually turns into a full-scale riot. Turner's exploits lead to his initiation into the "Order": a secret neo-Nazi rebel group. The Order is secretly leading the Organization and their existence remains unknown both to ordinary Organization members and the System.[5] Later, Turner's hideout is raided by law enforcement. During an ensuing gun battle with authorities, everyone in the unit manages to escape but Turner is captured after nearly being killed. He is arrested and sent to a military base for interrogation by the FBI and an Israeli intelligence officer. He is tortured in an effort to coerce the release of information on the Organization. Months later, other members of the Order rescue him from the prison. They inform him that he will be punished in the future for failing to commit suicide to avoid capture and interrogation. He acknowledges the authority of the Order and pledges to accept whatever punishment they impose, whenever they impose it.

Eventually, the Organization seizes the nuclear weapons at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California and targets missiles at New York City and Tel Aviv.[8] While in control of California, the Organization ethnically cleanses the area of all non-Aryans by forcing them into the East, which is still controlled by the System. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of African Americans are forced into the desert to cause an economic crisis on the System's welfare system and all Jews are beaten, lynched, or shot.[8] The resulting racial conflict in the east causes many whites to "wake up" and begin fleeing to Southern California, which becomes a white ethnostate. This deliberately fomented racial conflict, referred to as "demographic warfare", starts to bring in new recruits to both the Organization and the Order.[9] During this time, the Organization raids a black sanctuary and discovers a cannibalism operation where black people kidnap, butcher, and eat whites.

The Organization raids the houses of all individuals who have been reported to be race traitors in some way (such as judges, professors, lawyers, politicians, clergy, journalists, entertainers, etc.), and white people who "defiled" their race by living with or marrying non-whites. These individuals are dragged from their homes and publicly hanged in the streets in Los Angeles in an event which comes to be known as the "Day of the Rope" (August 1, 1993). Most of these public executions are filmed for propaganda purposes.[8][5] Once the Organization instigates a nuclear war, the Organization opens compounds where food and shelter are available—but those seeking admittance are given a bayonet and told to come back with "the freshly cut head of a non-white person;" those unable or unwilling to pay such an "admittance price" are left to starve, as their death would "improve the race."

The Organization then uses both its southern Californian base of operations and its nuclear weapons to open a wider war in which it launches nuclear strikes against New York City and Israel, initiates a nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union, and plants nuclear weapons and new combat units throughout North America. Many major U.S. cities are destroyed, including Baltimore and Detroit. Governments all over the world fall one by one, and violent anti-Jewish riots break out in the streets. After the nuclear weapons are launched against Israel and Tel Aviv is destroyed, the Arabs take advantage of the opportunity and proceed to swarm into Israel, mostly armed with clubs and knives, and kill all Israelis. The governments of France and the Netherlands collapse, and the Soviet Union falls apart while experiencing a surge in anti-Semitic violence. Meanwhile, the United States is put in a state of absolute martial law and transformed into a military dictatorship. The United States government decides to launch an invasion of the Organization's stronghold in southern California. The leaders of the Order now inform Earl Turner of his punishment for having failed to resist his interrogators during his captivity: he must pilot a crop duster equipped with a nuclear warhead and destroy the Pentagon in a kamikaze-type suicide-strike, before the invasion can be ordered.[3][4]

The epilogue summarizes how the Organization went on to conquer the rest of the world and how all non-white races of people were murdered. The epilogue concludes with the statement that "just 110 years after the birth of the Great One, the dream of a white world finally became a certainty... and the Order would spread its wise and benevolent rule over the earth for all time to come."[5]

Publication history[edit]

The Turner Diaries was published by Pierce under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald.[1][2] It was originally published in a serial form in the National Alliance publication Attack! between 1975 and 1978,[10] with one chapter released per issue during this period.[11] Enthusiastic reactions among racist sympathizers led Pierce to self-publish the story as a paperback in 1978.[12] Artist Dennis Nix contributed to the illustrations.[13] The main story was originally set in the 1980s; Pierce changed it to the 1990s when the series was compiled to be published as a book in 1978.[11]

The Turner Diaries was initially only sold via mail order from the National Alliance headquarters in West Virginia.[14] It had sold 200,000 copies by the late 1990s according to self-estimates generally considered reliable by scholars.[15][16] Other estimates have gone higher, giving a figure of 500,000 copies sold as of 2000.[14][1]

The Policy on the Classification of Hate Propaganda, Sedition and Treason of the Canada Border Services Agency has classified The Turner Diaries as "obscene" and "hate propaganda" literature that cannot be imported to Canada under the Criminal Code.[17][18][19] In late 2020, online bookstore Amazon removed all new and used print and digital copies of The Turner Diaries from its bookselling platform, including all subsidiaries (AbeBooks, The Book Depository), effectively stopping sales of the title from the digital bookselling market. Although Amazon did not state a specific reason for the removal, it followed the company's purge of a number of self-published and small-press titles connected with QAnon from its platform.[20][21] The book had previously been on Amazon with a disclaimer noting its history of being associated with terrorist acts.[21]

Legacy and analysis[edit]

The Turner Diaries was described as being "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled the "bible of the racist right" by the FBI.[6][7] The book was greatly influential in shaping white nationalism and the later development of the white genocide conspiracy theory.[22][23][24][25]

John Sutherland, in a 1996 essay for the London Review of Books, wrote: "The Turner Diaries is not the work of a Holocaust-denier (although Pierce gives us plenty of that) so much as a would-be Holocaust-repeater."[8] The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls it a "hate book".[26] The New York Times noted its influence on white supremacists, describing some of its appeal as stemming from the book's "far-fetched" plot.[21] The Anti-Defamation League identified The Turner Diaries as "probably the most widely-read book among far-right extremists; many [of them] have cited it as the inspiration behind their terrorist organizing and activities."[5]

Historian Kathleen Belew described the book as a valuable lens through which to understand white nationalists, though she argued that it must be understood in context when studied, as "It’s a book that has been used to kill a lot of people, over and over and over. [...] People should understand that’s what it is."[21] She additionally wrote that some actions in the 2021 United States Capitol attack appeared to be inspired by the book's "Day of the Rope" and an attack on Congress in the book. She wrote that the book "really becomes a clear point of reference if you look at the photographs of the action".[27]

Renee Brodie, writing for the Journal of American Culture, viewed the novel as having a premillennialist Christian ideology, with a "primarily apocalyptic" worldview as a whole, with the ethnically cleansed world at the end of the novel being paralleled by Macdonald with the Kingdom of God.[28] Brodie wrote that by correlating Christian views with the Organization, the narrative shows the members of the group as having a "single-mindedness of purpose" that is "one of the main attractions found in The Turner Diaries".[29]

The phrase "day of the rope" has also become common in white nationalist and alt-right Internet circles, referring to an event in the novel where all "race traitors" are publicly hanged.[30][31][32]

White supremacist terrorism[edit]

The book has inspired numerous hate crimes and acts of terrorism. It is estimated to have influenced perpetrators in over 200 killings.[33]

The following terrorist attacks have been inspired by The Turner Diaries:

  • The Order (1983–84) was a white supremacist, terrorist organization which named itself after the political organization which is discussed in The Turner Diaries (1978). The Order murdered three people, including the talk radio host Alan Berg, and committed numerous robberies, counterfeiting operations, and acts of violence in an effort to provoke a race war in the United States.[34]
  • Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, was found with pages from The Turner Diaries after the attack. His attack closely resembled the bombing of the FBI's headquarters in the novel.[35]
  • John William King was convicted of dragging James Byrd, an African American, to his death in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. As King shackled Byrd's legs to his truck, he was reported to have said, "We're going to start The Turner Diaries early."[36][37]
  • David Copeland, a British neo-Nazi who killed three people in a bombing campaign against London's black, Asian, and gay communities in April 1999, quoted from The Turner Diaries while being interviewed by police.[38]
  • A copy of The Turner Diaries and other neo-Nazi propaganda were found in the home of Jacob D. Robida, who attacked three men at a gay bar in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 2006. Robida fled, killing a hostage and a police officer before committing suicide.[39]
  • A copy of The Turner Diaries and neo-Nazi propaganda and items which are associated with white supremacy and Nazism were found in the house of Zack Davies, who was convicted of a racist murder attempt in Mold, Flintshire, UK, in September 2015.[40]
  • The National Socialist Underground used a German translation of The Turner Diaries (Turner Tagebücher) in forming at least part of their ideological basis.[41] Members Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, and Beate Zschäpe murdered nine immigrants between September 9, 2000, and April 25, 2007. A copy of the Turner Tagebücher was found on the trio's scorched hard drive after Böhnhardt and Mundlos committed suicide and set fire to their van on November 4, 2011.[42][43] The Turner Tagebücher has been banned in Germany since April 2006.[44]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Salamon, Julie (October 23, 2000). "Television Review; The Web as Home for Racism and Hate". The New York Times. p. 8. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Reed, Christopher (July 25, 2002). "William Pierce". The Guardian. London. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Harkavy, Ward (November 15, 2000). "The Nazi on the Bestseller List". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Shinbaum, Myrna (May 16, 1996). "Q & A on The Turner Diaries" (Press release). Anti-Defamation League. Archived from the original on December 1, 2001. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Extremism in America: The Turner Diaries". Anti-Defamation League. February 5, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Applebome, Peter (April 26, 1995). "TERROR IN OKLAHOMA: THE BACKGROUND; A Bombing Foretold, In Extreme-Right 'Bible'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2008.
  7. ^ a b Jackson, Camille (October 14, 2004). "Turner Diaries, Other Racist Novels Inspire Extremist Violence". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Sutherland, John (May 22, 1997). "Higher Man". London Review of Books. Vol. 19, no. 10. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Turner Diaries - Race Baiting at its Finest". Paul Robinson. December 12, 2009. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  10. ^ Barkun 2014, p. 226.
  11. ^ a b Berger 2016, p. 6.
  12. ^ Goehring & Dionisopoulos 2013, p. 369.
  13. ^ Zeskind 2009, p. 41.
  14. ^ a b Sutherland, John (April 3, 2000). "Gospels of hate that slip through the net". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2007.
  15. ^ Whitsel 1998, p. 184.
  16. ^ Cullick 2002, p. 88.
  17. ^ "Canada Border Services Agency's Policy on the Classification of Obscene Material: Memorandum D9-1-1". Canada Border Services Agency. Government of Canada. June 29, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  18. ^ Gaffney, Blaine (February 19, 2013). "Exclusive: Disturbing firearm seizures in Kelowna". Global News. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  19. ^ "Memorandum D9-1-15 - Canada Border Services Agency's Policy on the Classification of Hate Propaganda, Sedition and Treason". Canada Border Services Agency. Government of Canada. February 14, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  20. ^ Statt, Nick (January 12, 2021). "Amazon pulls white supremacist novel The Turner Diaries alongside QAnon purge". The Verge. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d Alter, Alexandra (January 12, 2021). "How 'The Turner Diaries' Incites White Supremacists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 19, 2021.
  22. ^ Berger 2016, p. 40.
  23. ^ Barkun 2014, p. 228.
  24. ^ Ross, Kaz (March 16, 2019). "How believers in 'white genocide' spread their hate campaign in Australia". Business Standard. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  25. ^ Evans, Robert (August 4, 2019). "The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror". Bellingcat. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  26. ^ "Jewish group complains over sale of hate books online". CNN. August 10, 1999. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
  27. ^ Pineda, Dorany (January 8, 2021). "'The Turner Diaries' didn't just inspire the Capitol attack. It warns us what might be next". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  28. ^ Brodie 2008, pp. 13–14.
  29. ^ Brodie 2008, p. 17.
  30. ^ Ward, Justin (April 19, 2018). "Day of the trope: White nationalist memes thrive on Reddit's r/The_Donald". Southern Poverty Law Centre. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  31. ^ Wilson, Jason (June 15, 2018). "Doxxing, assault, death threats: the new dangers facing US journalists covering extremism". The Guardian. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  32. ^ Tenold, Vegas (July 26, 2018). "To Doxx a Racist". The New Republic. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  33. ^ Ware, Jacob (March 17, 2020). "Testament to Murder: The Violent Far Right's Increasing Use of Terrorist Manifestos". International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. The Hague. Retrieved November 4, 2023.
  34. ^ Bosworth, Charles Jr. (March 15, 1998). "Illinois Man Sought Start of Race War, Source Says". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri: Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc. p. A1.
  35. ^ Collins, James (April 28, 1997). "Oklahoma City: The Weight of Evidence". Time. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  36. ^ Cullick 2002, p. 87.
  37. ^ Miller, Phil (February 23, 2000). "Black Man's Killer Said: 'We're Starting the Turner Diaries Early'". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Scotsman Publications. p. 3.
  38. ^ The Nailbomber (Television production). BBC Panorama. BBC. June 30, 2000. Event occurs at 16:57–17:21.
  39. ^ Caywood, Thomas (February 8, 2006). "Infamous neo-Nazi literature found in killer's room". The Boston Herald. Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Herald Inc. p. 5.
  40. ^ "Life term for Rigby revenge attacker". BBC News. September 11, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  41. ^ Huesmann, Felix (November 26, 2014). "Der NSU war nur die Spitze des rechten Terror-Netzwerks" [The NSU was only the tip of the right-wing terror network]. Vice News (in German). Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  42. ^ Eisenbichler, Ernst (November 4, 2013). "4. November 2011: Eine Neonazi-Terrorzelle fliegt auf". Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  43. ^ Rundfunk, Christoph Arnowski, Bayerischer (February 4, 2016). "259. Verhandlungstag, 4.2.2016: Die Turner-Tagebücher und der NSU" [259th day of trial, 4.2.2016: The Turner Diaries and the NSU (National Socialist Underground)]. Bayerischer Rundfunk (in German). Retrieved February 12, 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  44. ^ Friedrichson, Gisela (November 6, 2014). "NSU-Prozess: Die Rolle der "Combat-18"-Zelle" [NSU trial: The role of the "Combat-18" cell]. Der Spiegel (in German). Munich. Retrieved December 26, 2018.