ARC Review: They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency

They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency by Malcolm Nance

I finished Malcolm Nance’s newest book a week before the first televised hearing of the January 6th House Committee. Many (though not all) of the details of events on January 6th that were covered in that first hearing are also here in Nance’s book. The value of Nance’s book is that he digs deep into the white supremacist and QAnon history that lies behind the events of that day. The result is a book that is a stark warning of a clear and present danger to our nation. 

Malcolm Nance first came to public notice with his critique of waterboarding - saying that he knew it was torture because he had administered it himself. He testified in front of the US House Judiciary Committee that “waterboarding is torture, period”. He is a former US Navy Senior Petty Officer who specialized in cryptology. He was an intelligence and security contractor post 9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of which is to say that Nance has a strong background in understanding and dealing with international terrorists.

Nance is an intelligence and foreign policy analyst for MSNBC. In the last six years he has focused his attention on Trumpworld and the actions and mindset of the ex-President’s followers.  

The case he makes in this book, and it is a chilling one, is that we now face domestic terrorists bent on destroying American democracy, and that the Trump presidency helped to strengthen and accelerate the work of these terrorists amongst us.

Blending his expertise on al-Qaida and Trumpworld, Nance is particularly good at pointing out that the tools and methods that lead individuals to become radicalized are much the same whether the objective is extremist Islamic terrorism or QAnon fueled Trumpian insurrection.  In both cases the result has been violent extremists bent on achieving their goals regardless of the cost to others. Thus we saw “Blue Power” Trump followers at the Capital last January 6th encouraging each other by shouting “Kill Him” about a Capital Policeman trying to keep them from storming the building.

The book is strongest at the beginning when Nance lays out the “TITUS” (Trump Insurgency in the United States) threat he sees by identifying the various groups that comprise the threat, and at the end, where the events of January 6th are described. In between the text wanders about from John Birch to Timothy McVeigh. It’s not always easy to draw straight lines between the examples Nance describes in the book’s middle, because so much of what white supremacist and militia groups have done between acts of violence and terrorism has been undocumented. But the documentation that Nance does bring forward is disturbing.

The book presents a convincing case that in America we now have “an openly fascist movement” that desires to “install Trump as dictator”, and threatens our democracy. Even if you believe, as I do, that Nance overstates the power of militia groups like the Proud Boys, and doesn’t distinguish enough between online rhetoric and real world actions, there is more than enough here to convince you that the threat is real. We all would do well to take it seriously. 

RATING: Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

NOTE: This is an ARC review. The book is due to be available on July 12th.

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Title: They Want to Kill Americans
Author: Malcolm Nance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (MacMillan)
Publish Date: July 12, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781250279002
Publisher’s List Price: $29.99 Hardcover (as of 06/2022)