The Turner Diaries

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The Turner Diaries
Author William Luther Pierce (as Andrew Macdonald)
Country United States
Language English
Series 1978
Genre Fiction
Published 1978 (National Vanguard Books)
Media type Print

The Turner Diaries is a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce (founder of the white nationalist organization National Alliance), published under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald".[1] The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the federal government, nuclear war, and, ultimately, a race war. All groups opposed by the author, such as jews, gays, and non-whites, are exterminated.[2] The book was described as "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled a "bible of the racist right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[3][4] The novel has been associated with white separatists, right-wing radicals and others.[5][6]

Plot summary[edit]

The narrative starts with a foreword set in 2099, one hundred years after the events depicted. The bulk of the book quotes a recently discovered diary of a man named Earl Turner, an active member of the white Aryan revolutionary movement that caused these events. The book details a violent, apocalyptic overthrow of the United States federal government by Turner and his militant comrades in a brutal race war that takes place first in North America, and then the rest of the world.

The story starts soon after the federal government has confiscated all civilian firearms in the country under the fictional Cohen Act. Turner and his cohorts take their organization underground to engages in a guerrilla war against the "System", depicted as dominated by Jewish control.[2] The "System" begins by implementing many new repressive laws on various forms of hate; by repealing laws against rape as rape laws are often viewed as "racist" and also imply that gender exists on a biological level, by making it a "hate crime" for white people to defend themselves from crime by non-whites even after all weapons are confiscated, and pushing for new surveillance measures in order to monitor its citizens, such as a special passport which will be required at all times and at all places in order to identify where individuals are at any one time. The "Organization" starts its campaigns by committing acts such as the bombing of FBI headquarters and continues to execute an ongoing, low level campaign of terrorism, assassinations, and economic sabotage throughout the United States.

Turner plays a major role in all activities within 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 be evacuated. In another scene, Turner oversees an anti-racism parade in which whites who are not part of the parade are pulled aside and beaten (sometimes to death) by the non-white marchers; the march eventually turns into a full-scale riot. Turner's exploits lead to his initiation into the "Order", a secret quasi-religious inner cadre consisting of an "elite" group of masterminds of the revolution, who secretly are leading the Organization and whose existence remains unknown to both ordinary Organization members and the System.[2] 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 to force the release of information, but resists. The interrogators fail to extract the most valuable information. The diaries pick up two years after, when the military prison is raided by other Organization members and Turner is set free.

Eventually, the Organization seizes physical control of Southern California, including the nuclear weapons at Vandenberg Air Force Base which serves as a deterrent. While in control of California, the Organization ethnically cleanses the area of all non-Whites by forcing them to leave the immediate area and flee to the Eastern states, where they begin to take out their anger against ordinary whites. The resulting racial conflict in the east causes many whites to "wake up" and begin fleeing to California which now becomes a white sanctuary. Deliberately fomenting racial conflict is referred to as "demographic warfare" which begins bringing in new recruits to both the Organization and the Order. All Jews and mixed-race individuals are summarily executed.[7] During this time, the Organization raids a black sanctuary and discovers a cannibalism operation where blacks kidnap whites, butcher them, and then eat them. In one of the most notorious scenes in the book, the Organization raids the houses of all individuals reported to be "race traitors" in some way (such as judges, professors, lawyers, politicians, journalists, entertainers, race-mixers, etc.) drags them from their homes, and publicly hangs them in the streets in an event which comes to be known as the "Day of the Rope". Most of these public executions are filmed for propaganda purposes.[2] The Organization has little use for most white "mainstream" Americans. Those on the left are seen as dupes or willing agents of the Jews, while conservatives and libertarians are regarded as mere businessmen out for themselves or as misguided fools, for, the Organization states, the Jews "took over according to the Constitution, fair and square." Turner and his comrades save their special contempt for the ordinary people, who are seen to care about nothing beyond being kept comfortable and entertained.

The Organization then uses both their Southern Californian base of operations and their nuclear weapons to open a wider war in which they launch nuclear strikes against New York City and Israel, initiate a nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union, and plant nuclear weapons and new terrorist cells throughout North America. Many major U.S. cities are destroyed, including Baltimore and Detroit. As the United States undergoes a nuclear civil war, governments all over the world begin to fall one after another and violent anti-Jewish riots break out in the streets. After the nuclear launches against Israel, the Arabs take the advantage of the opportunity and proceed to swarm into Israel, mostly armed with clubs and knives, and kill all of the Israelis. The governments of France and the Netherlands collapse, and the Soviet Union falls apart all while it sees a surge in anti-Semitic violence. Meawhile, the United States is put in a state of absolute martial law and transformed into a military dictatorship. When the United States government sets itself to launch an invasion against the Organization's stronghold in Southern California, Earl Turner is ordered on a suicide mission; he flies a cropduster equipped with a nuclear warhead and destroys the Pentagon before the invasion can be ordered.

The novel ends with an epilogue from the year 2099, summarizing how the Organization continued on to conquer the rest of the world and how all non-White races were eliminated. Africa was invaded and all of its black inhabitants were killed. The Puerto Ricans (described as a "repulsive mongrel race") were exterminated and the island of Puerto Rico was re-colonized by whites. When China begins an attempt to invade European Russia, the Organization launches a full-scale assault with nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons which render the entire continent of Asia uninhabitable and rife with "mutants". And in America, the last remaining non-white elements are hunted down as well as all individuals involved in organized crime (such as the mafia). One of the last steps in the Organization's victory is the truce with the remainder of the American military generals, who agree that they will surrender if the Organization swears not to harm them or their immediate families, an agreement which the Organization gladly accepts. Thus the epilogue concludes that "just 110 years after the birth of the 'Great One', the dream of a white world finally became a certainty...and that the Order would spread its wise and benevolent rule over the earth for all time to come".[2]

First and second editions[edit]

The Turner Diaries was first serialized in the mid 1970s in the National Alliance's tabloid paper, Attack!. The first printing in paperback was May 1978. Pierce originally set his story in the 1980s. Its reprinting (September 1980) took the form of a slightly altered second edition that moved the setting forward ten years. Although subsequent printings of The Turner Diaries have featured different cover art or back cover copy, they have kept to the second edition's text.

In keeping with the new 1990s time frame, events in the past are generally aged by ten years, though not always. The first edition also featured illustrations by Dennis Nix. Later printings dropped the illustrations, used a smaller typeface, and switched from bold to italics for emphasis.


According to the Anti-Defamation League, this book is "probably the most widely read book among far-right extremists; many have cited it as the inspiration behind their terrorist organizing and activity."[8] The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls it a "hate book".[9]

The novel was initially sold only through mail order and partially serialized in National Alliance publications. As of 2000 it was reported to have sold about 500,000 copies.[1][10] The book is considered to be hate propaganda and is prohibited from being imported into Canada.[11][12]

Crimes by persons purportedly inspired by this book[edit]

  • The Order, an early 1980s white supremacist terrorist group, was named after the group in the book. The group committed one of the biggest highway robberies of all time, murdered three people (including controversial radio host Alan Berg), and engaged in other acts of violence, claiming to seek a race war.[13]
  • Timothy McVeigh, convicted for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, was found after the attack with pages from The Turner Diaries. His attack closely resembled the bombing of FBI headquarters in the novel.[14]
  • 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."[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • Several off-duty police officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were tried for a 2004 civil rights assault against Frank Jude, Jr.; a copy of The Turner Diaries was found during a search of the home of one of them; he was later convicted.[17]
  • 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. Robida fled, killing a hostage and a police officer before committing suicide.[18]
  • Dylann Roof, the suspected gunman in the 2015 massacre at a predominantly African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine people died, allegedly possessed a copy of The Turner Diaries.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Salamon, Julie (2000-10-23). "Television Review; The Web as Home for Racism and Hate". The New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Extremism: The Turner Diaries". Anti-Defamation League. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  3. ^ The New York Times April 26, 1995
  4. ^ "Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  5. ^ Harkavy, Ward (2000-11-15). "The Nazi on the Bestseller List". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  6. ^ Shinbaum, Myrna (1996-05-16), Q & A on The Turner Diaries, Anti-Defamation League 
  7. ^ "The Turner Diaries - Race Baiting at its Finest". Paul Robinson. 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2010-05-02. .
  8. ^ "ADL". ADL. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  9. ^ "Jewish group complains over sale of hate books online". CNN. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  10. ^ Sutherland, John (2000-04-03). "Gospels of hate that slip through the net". Guardian Unlimited (Guardian). Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  11. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Disturbing firearms seizures in Kelowna
  12. ^ Memorandum D9-1-15: Canada Border Services Agency's Policy on the Classification of Hate Propaganda, Sedition and Treason
  13. ^ Bosworth, Jr., Charles (1998-03-15). "Illinois Man Sought Start of Race War, Source Says". St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.). p. A1. 
  14. ^ TIME
  15. ^ Miller, Phil (200-02-23). "Black Man's Killer Said: 'We're Starting the Turner Diaries Early'". The Scotsman (The Scotsman Publications). p. 3.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  16. ^ BBC Panoroma (2000-06-30). "The Nailbomber". 
  17. ^ Barton, Gina (2007-08-02). "Ex-cop linked to rogue group". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  18. ^ Caywood, Thomas (2006-02-08). "Infamous neo-Nazi literature found in killer's room". The Boston Herald (Boston Herald Inc.). p. 5. 
  19. ^ [1]