From Jeffrey Toobin, the bestselling author whose book The Run of His Life inspired the FX drama The People vs. O.J. Simpson, comes a rollicking account of the kidnapping and trial that defined an insane era in American history
On February 4, 1973, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heir to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when Hearst released a tape saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the name “Tania.”
The many weird turns of the tale are truly incredible—the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the videotape capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a bank robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Jim Jones to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on all television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, after which the phrase “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.
The saga of Patty Hearst defined a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the insanity of the times (there were an average of 1500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patricia Hearst; and recreates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the startling decision to join her captors’ crusade.
Or did she?