When government consultant Professor Marco Biagi was assassinated in Italy by the New Red Brigades in the aftermath of September 11, the country was transported back 30 years to the violent “Years of Lead.” In the 1970s Neo-Fascists planted bombs, Marxist-Leninists kneecapped and assassinated, and ordinary Italians were afraid to go to their offices in the morning. There were over 500 killed by terrorists in those years, thousands wounded, burned, scarred; there are hundreds in jail or who have done time, and thousands still out there, like “Giorgio,” having lived decades as clandestine soldiers. The most shocking document of that unstable era and one of the primary source documents in the history of terrorism is this anonymous firsthand narrative of a life devoted to the bloody cause of The Red Brigades. In candid and grim detail, “Giorgio” tells of his “transition to living underground.” He coldly narrates his mundane routine that prefigures the methods of al-Quaeda: the long patient shadowing of potential targets (never victim, always “target”), the clinical monitoring of the news for opportunities for destruction, and the relentless study of target companies to identify the strategic personnel to kneecap or assassinate. He describes the succession of events that took him from simple troublemaking to full-fledged terrorism, from a gleeful “proletarian expropriation” of Levis from a Milanese “jeanseria” to shooting at the police in a famous demonstration in which one policeman was killed, and on to outright political assassinations. Fascinating and horrifying to the end, Giorgio’s story resonates with the current situation in the United States as much as it did with Italy’s when it was first published. A best-seller in Europe and a classic in Italy, this is the first U.S. publication of these uncensored memoirs of an unrepentant terrorist.
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