The Radical Transformation of Patricia Hearst

27BOOKTOOBIN1-master315Janet Maslin at The New York Times:

One of the few unassailable facts is that Ms. Hearst was kidnapped and thrown into a car trunk at 9:17 p.m. on Feb. 4, 1974, by people calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. She had been at home with her fiancé, Steven Weed, whose response to the attackers was to exclaim, “Take anything you want!” They did.

Amazingly, almost every detail from this point on remains open to interpretation. How badly was the kidnapping victim treated? It’s true she was confined to a walk-in closet that locked from the outside and that she went through extreme sensory deprivation. But would this become the basis for brainwashing?

Or were her captors, about whom Mr. Toobin has a lot of background information, partly stalling as they figured out what to do with her? Of Donald DeFreeze, the leader who became briefly ubiquitous as Cinque, the Symbionese Liberation Army’s general field marshal, and whose planning skills were hugely problematic, Mr. Toobin writes: “DeFreeze was almost the opposite of a master criminal; he was most inventive in finding ways to get caught.”

more here.

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