Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff

Bloomsbury. Jul. 2019. 448p. ISBN 9781635571202. $30. POL SCI
McCann (creative writing, California Inst. of the Arts, Santa Clarita) offers a vivid journey through eastern Oregon's Great Basin, detailing the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Ammon Bundy and his militant followers in 2016. In often lyrical prose, McCann approaches Bundy's following as a modern-day messiah movement, comparing him to the Paiute religious leader Wovoka and the 19th-century ghost dance religion of the Native American tribe. McCann takes seriously Bundy's legal arguments, comparing his personal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to Protestantism vs. the traditional Catholic/Federal interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court. While James Pogue's detailed Chosen Country takes the view of an embedded reporter, McCann visited and interviewed people in the area during and after the occupation, providing additional perspectives.
VERDICT McCann places the Malheur occupation in a fresh and broadly anthropological context that furthers our understanding of the ramifications of this political-religious movement in an era of extreme political demagoguery. Highly recommended.
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