Synopses & Reviews
Mark Strand wrote of Jane Kramer’s book Europeans
that it was “so effortless in its dispensations, so intelligent, so well written, that as journalism it’s in a class by itself.” In Lone Patriot,
Kramer, who covers Europe for The New Yorker,
now turns to America with an enthralling portrait of the commander-in-chief of an erstwhile Patriot army called the Washington State Militia.
In 1996 Kramer made the first of what would be many trips to Whatcom County, Washington, to talk to John Pitner and some of the veterans of Alpha One, his “leadership” squad. Through their voices, Pitner’s in particular, Kramer tells the story of a movement that surfaced in America in the nineties, as the millennium approached, and has continued—its resolve, if anything, strengthened by the events of the past year—into the new century. Her powerful evocations of Whatcom County could easily describe any number of rural communities in the Pacific Northwest today—a place of refuge to a strange assortment of conspiracy theorists, armed “constitutionalists,” white supremacists, county secessionists, Freemen, and Christian fanatics, and to the kind of groups that survive on their discontent.
Kramer has been described as a writer who combines the art of a novelist and the eye of a social historian. Lone Patriot, with its wayward characters and their “Patriot” obsessions, is a timely and compelling narrative from one of America’s most important writers.
"Kramer's strengths are her inquisitiveness, insight and graceful prose....But one ends up wondering whether the FBI and Kramer mightn't have better spent time pursuing real militiamen rather than this sad band of malcontents." Publishers Weekly
"The empty lunacy of Pitner's bravado seems to disappoint Kramer herself, who ends up shifting her focus to the two long-suffering women Pitner gulls into years of selfless labor for his cause. In the end, this self-styled freedom fighter disenchants both his credulous followers and his investigative biographer." Bryce Christensen, Booklist
"[W]ell-drawn, superbly reported....[Kramer] approaches this subject with fresh eyes, and...avoids the mistakes of writers who never actually spent much time with these people....Kramer does a fine job of portraying a group of everyday lost souls looking for something larger to blame for all their troubles." Timothy Egan, The New York Times Book Review
"Jane Kramer has bravely gone into the belly of a beast which is alive and well in America and which most of us prefer not to acknowledge. We avoid looking where she takes us, in Lone Patriot, at our peril." Bob Kerrey
"By turns hilarious and harrowing, Lone Patriot offers one of the most richly textured and deeply affecting narratives of Jane Kramer's remarkable career." Lawrence Wechsler
"The American militia movement would seem to be an unlikely subject for Jane Kramer, the wonderful European correspondent for The New Yorker. But she has summoned all her formidable intelligence, usually lavished on Paris and Berlin, to describe some angry Americans in rural Washington State. The results are brilliant. Jane Kramer is a poet of discontent and delusion, and in Whatcom County she has found a great subject." Ward Just
About the Author
Jane Kramer has written The New Yorker’s “Letter from Europe” for more than twenty years. She is the author of eight previous books, among them The Last Cowboy, Europeans, and The Politics of Memory, and has been the recipient of many awards, including a National Book Award. With Europeans, she became the first woman, and the first American, to win the Prix Européen de l’Essai “Charles Veillon,” Europe’s most prestigious award for nonfiction. She divides her time between Europe and New York.