The Turner Diaries
|Author||William Luther Pierce (as Andrew Macdonald)|
|Publisher||National Vanguard Books|
|Pages||211 (2nd ed.)|
|ISBN||0-937-94402-5 2nd edition, paperback|
The Turner Diaries is a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce, published under the pseudonym "Andrew Macdonald". 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 leading to the systematic extermination of non-whites. All groups opposed by the novel's protagonist, Earl Turner, including Jews, non-whites, "liberal actors" and politicians are exterminated.
The Turner Diaries was described as "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled the "bible of the racist right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The book was greatly influential in shaping white nationalism and in the later development of white genocide conspiracy theory. It has also inspired numerous hate-crimes and acts of terrorism.
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The narrative starts with a foreword that is set in the year 2099, one hundred years after the events that are depicted in it. The bulk of the book quotes the recently discovered diary of a man named Earl Turner, an active member of the white revolutionary movement that caused these events. The book details a violent, apocalyptic overthrow of the United States federal government (referred to as "the System" throughout the book) by Turner and his militant comrades in a brutal race war that is first waged in North America, then spreads to 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 in order to wage a guerrilla war against the System, which is depicted as being under Jewish control. The "System" begins by implementing numerous repressive laws against various forms of hate, by making it a "hate crime" for white people to defend themselves when crimes are committed against them by non-whites even after all weapons have been confiscated, and pushing for new surveillance measures in order to monitor its citizens, such as requiring them to possess a special passport at all times and in all places in order to permanently monitor where individuals are. The "Organization" starts its campaigns by committing acts such as the bombing of the FBI headquarters, then executing an ongoing, low-level campaign of terrorism, assassination, 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 witnesses an anti-racism parade 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 quasi-religious inner cadre that consists of an "elite" group of masterminds of the revolution, who are secretly leading the Organization and whose existence remains unknown both to ordinary Organization members and the System. 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 pieces of information from him, lacking awareness of the existence of the Order. The diaries pick up two years later, when the military prison is raided by other members of the Organization and Turner is set free.
Eventually, the Organization seizes physical control of the nuclear weapons at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California and targets missiles at New York City and Tel Aviv. While in control of California, the Organization ethnically cleanses the area of all non-Aryan whites 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 and executed and all Jews are beaten, lynched or shot. 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. During this time, the Organization raids a black sanctuary and discovers a cannibalism operation where blacks 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, journalists, entertainers, etc.), and white women who "defiled" their race by living with or being married to non-whites. It drags these individuals from their homes and publicly hangs them in the streets in Los Angeles in an event which comes to be known as the "Day of the Rope" (1 August 1993). Most of these public executions are filmed for propaganda purposes. 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 misguided fools, because, 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 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 US and the Soviet Union, and plants nuclear weapons and new terrorist cells throughout North America. Many major U.S. cities are destroyed, including Baltimore and Detroit. While the United States is being engulfed in a nuclear civil war, governments all over the world begin to fall one by one, and violent anti-Jewish riots break out in the streets. After the nuclear weapons are launched against Israel, the Arabs take 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 while it is seeing 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. When the United States government decides to launch an invasion of the Organization's stronghold in Southern California, Earl Turner is ordered to embark on a suicide mission; he flies a crop duster that is equipped with a nuclear warhead and destroys the Pentagon before the invasion can be ordered.
The novel ends with an epilogue that is written in the year 2099, which summarizes how the Organization went 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 Puerto Rico was re-colonized by whites. When China attempts to invade European Russia, the Organization launches a full-scale assault against it with nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons which render the entire continent of Asia uninhabitable and rife with "mutants". In the United States, the last remaining non-white elements are hunted down, along with all of the individuals who are involved in organized crime (such as the Mafia). One of the last steps in the Organization's victory is its truce with the remainder of the American military's generals, who agree to surrender if the Organization swears not to harm them or their immediate families, an agreement which the Organization gladly accepts. Thus the epilogue concludes by stating 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."
Editions and commentary
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The Turner Diaries was first serialized in the mid 1970s in the National Alliance's tabloid paper, Attack! The first printing in paperback was published in 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 ten years forward. Although subsequent printings of The Turner Diaries have featured different cover art or back cover copies, 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.
John Sutherland, in an essay for the London Review of Books in 1996 wrote that "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."
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 activity." Moreover, the Simon Wiesenthal Center calls it a "hate book".
Initially, The Turner Diaries was exclusively sold by mail order, and published in serial-chapter format in National Alliance publications. As of the year 2000, more than 500,000 copies of The Turner Diaries (1978) had been sold. Politically, the Policy on the Classification of Hate Propaganda, Sedition and Treason of the Canada Border Services Agency has classified The Turner Diaries as hate-propaganda literature that cannot be imported to Canada.
- The Order (1983–84) was a white supremacist, terrorist organization which named itself after the political organization 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- A copy of The Turner Diaries and neo-Nazi propaganda and items 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.
- The National Socialist Underground used the Turner Tagebücher in forming at least part of their ideological basis. Members Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos, and Beate Zschäpe murdered nine immigrants between 9 September 2000 and 25 April 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 4 November 2011. The Turner Tagebücher has been banned in Germany since April 2006.
The phrase "day of the rope" has become common in white nationalist and alt-right Internet circles, referring to an event in the novel where all "race traitors" are publicly hanged.
- Hunter (1989), another novel by William Luther Pierce
- The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London
- The Camp of the Saints (1973) by Jean Raspail
- Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theory
- Talk Radio (1988), directed by Oliver Stone (the main character, based on Alan Berg, mentions the book)
- Imperium (2016), directed by Daniel Ragussis (the book is mentioned as inspiration for white supremacists)
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