"To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face"
I blogged earlier on history prof Robert Churchill's new book on the origins of the militia movement of the 1990s. Here's the U of Michigan Press description page.
I've had time to read it, and it is excellent! He has no agenda, is simply out to write accurate history. Got into private archives, interviewed people, obtained government records. I can't sum up 300+ pages in a blog post, but a few high points are:
1) This was by no means an isolated or novel event. Throughout the history of this nation, people have responded to excessive use of government force by forming voluntary quasi-military organizations. It's almost an unconscious reflex for Americans. The critical events here were Ruby Ridge and Waco.
2) We've had various "red scares" and "brown scares" (as in brownshirt, i.e., of the right). We had a now forgotten brown scare during WWII, and a red scare thereafter (whose leaders learned from how the brown scare had worked), and then during the 1990s another brown scare directed at private militia groups. It was as inaccurate and exaggerated as the earlier scares.
3) The American Revolution left two legacies -- national building and liberty. By the 90s, the latter had almost been forgotten. The bicentennial of the Constitution was a BIG event, special commission headed by the Chief Justice, parades in DC, etc., etc. The bicentennial of the Bill of Rights passed unnoticed. Independence and nation building were seen as the legacy of the Revolution, individual liberty pushed to the side.
4) I'm flattered that he says the work on the origins of the Second Amendment, undertaken by David Caplan, Steve Halbrook, David E. Young and I, played a major role in returning liberty into the popular consciousness. It returned via the gun movement, which in the 80s and 90s began going into originalism, and which spread out from the law reviews into the popular mind. He recounts hearing two truckers on their CB radios discussing George Mason's thoughts, something that would have been beyond belief a decade earlier.
Amazon listing is right here.