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Oklahoma City

What the Investigation Missed - and Why It Still Matters
Narrated by: Todd Waring
Length: 14 hrs and 7 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4.5 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the early morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into downtown Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck containing a deadly fertilizer bomb that he and his army buddy Terry Nichols had made the previous day. He parked in a handicapped-parking zone, hopped out of the truck, and walked away into a series of alleys and streets. Shortly after 9:00 A.M, the bomb obliterated one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 infants and toddlers. McVeigh claimed he'd worked only with Nichols, and at least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh's was just one version of events. And much of it was wrong.

In Oklahoma City, veteran investigative journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles puncture the myth about what happened on that day - one that has persisted in the minds of the American public for nearly two decades. Working with unprecedented access to government documents, a voluminous correspondence with Terry Nichols, and more than 150 interviews with those immediately involved, Gumbel and Charles demonstrate how much was missed beyond the guilt of the two principal defendants: in particular, the dysfunction within the country's law enforcement agencies, which squandered opportunities to penetrate the radical right and prevent the bombing, and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.

To this day, the FBI heralds the Oklahoma City investigation as one of its great triumphs. In reality, though, its handling of the bombing foreshadowed many of the problems that made the country vulnerable to attack again on 9/11. Law enforcement agencies could not see past their own rivalries and underestimated the seriousness of the deadly rhetoric coming from the radical far right. In Oklahoma City, Gumbel and Charles give the fullest, most honest account to date of both the plot and the investigation, drawing a vivid portrait of the unfailingly compelling - driven, eccentric, fractious, funny, and wildly paranoid -characters involved.

©2012 Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers

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A Catalog

In Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed – and Why It Still Matters Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles detail what might well have gone wrong in the investigation and prosecution of that crime. Much has been written about the 1995 explosion and this volume certainly raises many questions about the investigation. The book is a valuable addition to this genre, but I would have liked for Gumbel and Charles to have included a clear summary chapter. I would have like for them to speculate or suggest why the investigation was carried out in this way? Tell us what has been learned about how these crimes are investigated? Comment on the limits of law enforcement to cover all leads. Is it even good to prosecute everyone involved? The book catalogs the issues associated with Oklahoma City, but a current perspective on what happened would have added a lot to the narrative.
For those interested in Oklahoma City in general and the mindset of individuals involved in such crimes, readers might turn to (a friend of mine) Stuart A. Wright and his book Patriots, Politics, and the Oklahoma City Bombing (Oxford University Press). Dr. Wright has an impressive list of academic books on this and other occurrences such as Waco which readers might find interesting as well. The reading of Todd Waring is excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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The book which may be 99% accurate.

I've read a lot of books about the Oklahoma City Bombing and while this isn't the easiest to follow, it may be the most factual and the most accurate. Stephen Jones was McVeigh's lead defense council and I read this book on his recommendation. There is a fantastic interview with him you can listen to on Voices of Oklahoma wherein he is asked which authors got it right. He sort of meanders saying (and I'm paraphrasing) that one book got it 75%, another maybe 90%. One got as close as 97%, but he felt like the Gumbel/Charles book was 99%. After everything I've read I believe this to be pretty true. The book centers on the bombing and all the characters who may have been involved whether there is evidence they were or not. It does not focus on Jayna Davis's claims made in "The Third Terrorist", the Hammer book "Secrets Worth Dying For", but does pay some attention to McVeigh's personal perspectives as related in "American Terrorist" - however, what is told there should be taken with a grain of salt as scant truth can be made of anything revealed by McVeigh proper due to egregious self-aggrandizement.
OKC by Gumbel and Charles discusses possible white supremacist involvement without pointing the finger, talks about Elohim City and their connection to the CSAL in early 80s Arkansas, and how this all relates to the MidWestern Bank robbers and how any or all of them could be involved in the plot. There is incredible detail about McVeigh's relationship with Co-conspirator Terry Nichols and seeks to reconcile the idea that McVeigh was HIS patsy. The Roger Moore robbery is covered with massive backstory glancing both directions as to if Nichols did it or someone else. And then there's Michael and Lori Fortier, who despite every government body claiming they were going to get everyone, prosecute them, and make them serve their time, the Fortiers made a deal, Mike served 12 years while Lori got nothing, and they live in witness protection on our dime. Furthermore, the greatest oddity of it all, NOT the FBIs unwillingness to seek out every possible lead to every one of the aforementioned, NOT that we executed a guy that would have eventually talked because he was just too cocky for his own good - the oddity of Andreas Strassmeir - "Andy the German" is explored. Was he a German paramilitary in the US sent to seek out anti-government elements? Was he a listless hack, couch surfing his way through the right-wing? Was he aware of the bombing like several other and made no effort to call it in? And how did he get out of the United States on an expired visa just when the law enforcement apparatus decided he might be useful? And then there's Carol Howe, ATF informant and right-wing insider who was deemed useless when her testimony would have depicted a wholly different concept than the one the prosecution wanted to show. All of this and a whole lot more are told within this book. It is a multi-faceted tale reading like a flow chart to get you to any one of several possible destinations, but when you arrive at one you are more horrified than the last. It's the most adult choose-your-own-adventure with the worst single question: how can so many possible people have had prior knowledge and done nothing to stop one Tim McVeigh unless there is a greater, more dastardly reason to have let it happen.

This book is comprehensive and revealing. Nevertheless, Others Unknown by Stephen Jones and Peter Israel is a better read. You just can't read one without reading all the others. You know... because of the hyperbole.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Informative and captivating

Although I thought I was familiar with the story of the Oklahoma City bombing, I now realize that I actually knew very few of the details of this awful event. I thought the naration was very good and appreciated that the story didn't get bogged down with overly detailed facts/information that might not work well in an audio book.

Listening to it was time well spent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful