Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed--and Why It Still Matters (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
Andrew Gumbel has worked for more than twenty years as a foreign correspondent for British newspapers the Guardian and the Independent, including assignments in the Balkans, Italy, the Middle East, and, since 1998, the United States. He has won awards for investigative reporting and political commentary, and written widely for U.S. publications including the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic.
His book Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America was published to great acclaim in 2005. He was born in England and educated at Oxford University.
Roger G. Charles is a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps and an awardwinning investigative journalist who has worked with a wide variety of media outlets, including Newsweek, Vanity Fair, ABC (Nightline, Primetime Live), CBS's 60 Minutes II, and the BBC. In 1996 and 1997 he was a consultant on the Oklahoma City bombing for ABC's 20/20. He also worked as an investigator for Stephen Jones and the legal team defending Timothy McVeigh in his federal trial. Charles was born in Texas, raised in West Virginia, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1967.
Praise for Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed--and Why It Still Matters…
“Extraordinarily well-researched… The book brilliantly deconstructs the investigation.”
-Wall Street Journal
“The story of the Murrah building bombing receives its most comprehensive accounting yet… It is a cautionary and at times startling tale, filled with bizarre characters from the outer fringes of American political life, with continuing relevance today.”
-Michael Isikoff, The Daily Beast
“Impressive... There are enough freak-show touches to keep an FX drama stocked for three seasons… As Gumbel and Rogers tell it, the bombing investigation fell short of discovering the truth because of sloppiness, self-serving intra-office politics, and obstructive turf wars among law enforcement agencies.”
“A well-reported, sober assessment... They make a strong case that some individuals involved in the bombing remain at liberty...the message is important for the future security of the U.S. citizenry.”
-Kansas City Star
“Credible and relevant... Offers a perspective other than what was proved at the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols...and explores the unsettling question of whether such an event could happen again by homegrown perpetrators.”
“This crisply written, fully documented book will anger you.”
-The Tucson Citizen
“The most comprehensive account yet...will dash the smug assertions at the time that the feds had caught all the perpetrators.”
-The Commercial Dispatch (Mississippi)