New in paperback. Hardcover was published in 2002. Survivalists, Mitchell shows us, are seeking resistance, not struggling against it.
"Survivalists". The word conjures dark images: a little-travelled rural road, surly sleeveless extras from the film "Deliverance", shotguns cradled in their arms, a snarling Doberman on a rusty chain guarding a fortified shelter. We don't think to look for survivalists among movie executives or engineers, physicians or other professionals. But we should, as Richard G. Mitchell, Jr. shows in "Dancing at Armageddon". Mitchell takes us inside a movement that is increasingly occupying the national consciousness, into a compelling, hidden world, far more connected to the chaos of modern life than its caricature as a freakish antigovernment activity would suggest. Mitchell spent a dozen years among survivalists at public conferences, private meetings, and clandestine training camps across America. And yes, he did learn how to garrote an enemy. But more importantly, he found at work in survivalism a profound and meaningful critique of contemporary industrial society, a society in which the real evil is not repressive government but the far more insidious influence of a "Planet Microsoft" mentality with its abundance of empty choices. Survivalists, Mitchell shows us, are seeking resistance, not struggling against it; they are looking for ways to define themselves and test their talents in a society that is becoming devitalized and formless. "Dancing at Armageddon" is packed with firsthand stories of underground commerce, revolutionary plots, gunplay and other survivalist action, real and imagined. Fascinating and compulsively readable, it offers not only a rare view inside the movement but, through the movement, a unique understanding of contemporary culture.