Praise for American Time Bomb by People in the Know about Attica, 1960’s Activism and Feminism.
“Abbie Hoffman once asked Josh Melville, “Your dad changed the world with dynamite and you got nothing to say about it?” But Josh was thinking, ‘How should I feel about a man who wanted to save the world and gave up his only child to do it?’
“Caught between these two poles, the younger Melville spent decades on a quest to figure out how his famous father “Mad Bomber” Sam Melville lived and died and what motivated his choices. He obsessively navigates a tortured maze of Sam’s radical friends, lovers, accomplices, prison mates, FBI agents, lawyers, and even the New York State Trooper who murdered him at Attica State Penitentiary, 1971, each of whom tells only part of the truth, at best.
What does the fabled Sixties mean to the children of the enflamed radicals? The aptly named “American Time Bomb” is one tour-de-force answer. I couldn’t put down this masterpiece of combined historical sleuthing and self-reflection.”
—Marc Rudd, founder of the Weather Underground, And a federal fugitive for seven and a half years.
“With the imaginative powers of a novelist, the tenacity of an investigative reporter, and the seriousness-of-purpose of an historian, Joshua Melville has produced a remarkable double memoir—first, the story of his dad, Sam Melville, murdered by an agent of the state at the age of thirty-seven during the notorious uprising at Attica prison, and, second, the pursuit of his father’s legacy, and his own truth. All children must eventually learn to walk on their own, of course, to make their distinct and wobbly way through life, to sing their own songs and tell their own stories. We meet the future, after all, by surpassing the elders and, in the process, rewriting the narratives of our parents. Joshua Melville has taken on that universal task with uncommon courage—his odyssey takes him through treacherous waters where he confronts a host of mythical monsters, resists a chorus of sirens, and overcomes substantial obstacles. In the end, Sam Melville got the historian he deserves—the dazzling son he called Jocko.@
— Bill Ayers, author, professor and Weather Underground organizer
“’Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.’ “ Genesis 22: 6.
American Timebomb is Isaac’s account. It differs dramatically from the authorized version.”
— Ron Kuby, Criminal Defense Attorney, protege to William Kunstler
“Josh Melville makes a strong argument that the pen is mightier than the sword. As a son, longing to understand his father’s death at Attica, his story is the stuff of grand opera and Greek tragedy. As detective and historian he has delivered a mesmerizing tale, insisting that America look at itself.”
— David Rothenberg, Attica “Observer” and President of the Fourtune Society
“What do you do when the father who abandoned you turns out to be a major domestic terrorist? In this devastating, visceral, and breathtaking memoir, Melville asks complicated questions unflinchingly. His story is at turns heartbreaking, infuriating, resonant, and difficult. It’s one-of-a-kind book, and I couldn’t put it down.”
— Susan Jane Gilman, bestselling author
“American Time Bomb, is a vital read for this moment. When hundreds of state troopers entered the Attica State Correctional Facility back in 1971 with guns blazing, killing Sixties’ radical Sam Melville, his son’s life was forever changed. Because state officials then denied any wrong doing, as well as hid, “lost,” and sealed all records related to their brutal retaking of that prison, Josh Melville had to spend literally decades trying to figure out exactly how his dad was murdered, and, increasingly importantly, how he had lived well before that awful day. American Time Bomb is a most beautiful memoir, and even while the conclusions that it draws may, like the tumultuous decades that it covers, generate some debate, they will no doubt give readers much to think on for a long time to come.”
— Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy